PHOENIX (AP) - A massive dust storm descended on the Phoenix
area, drastically reducing visibility and delaying flights as
strong winds downed trees and left thousands of residents without
The dust cloud that moved across the Phoenix valley Tuesday
night had formed in an afternoon storm in the Tucson area, and then
rolled north across the desert before sweeping over the city like
an enormous wave, said National Weather Service meteorologist Paul
Radar data showed the storm's towering dust wall had reached as
high as 8,000 to 10,000 feet, or nearly 2 miles, he said.
"This was pretty significant," Iniguez told The Associated
Press. "We heard from a lot of people who lived here for a number
of storms and this was the worst they'd seen."
By the time the dust cloud neared the metropolitan area, it had
started to dissolve but it still towered over the city with a wall
of at least 5,000 feet, according to the weather service.
KSAZ-TV in Phoenix reported the storm appeared to be roughly
wide in some spots. It briefly covered the city's downtown at
The storm was part of the Arizona monsoon season, which
typically starts in mid-June and lasts through September.
The National Weather Service says strong winds with gusts of up
to more than 60 mph in some places rapidly moved the dust cloud
northwest through Phoenix and the surrounding cities of Avondale,
Tempe and Scottsdale. More than a dozen communities in the area
also were placed under a severe thunderstorm watch until 11 p.m.
Some 8,000 Salt River Project utility customers were left
without power, KNXV-TV reported late Tuesday.
The Federal Aviation Administration said on its website that
because of low visibility in the area, no Phoenix-bound flights
were allowed to leave Las Vegas or Los Angeles airports until 9
p.m., and flights at the airport were delayed for about an hour.