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Arizona Sandstorm Ariel views.flv

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Published on Jul 6, 2011

Arizona has its own version of North African Ghibli

The wall of dust moved across the desert from the south on Tuesday and descended on the valley by nightfall. KSAZ-TV reported the storm appeared to be roughly 50-miles wide.

The National Weather Service says strong winds with gusts of more than 60 mph were moving northwest through Phoenix and the cities of Avondale, Tempe and Scottsdale. More than a dozen communities in the area also were under a severe thunderstorm watch until 11 p.m.

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.

They are known by many names: Haboob, Simum, Black Blizzards. A solid wall of dust almost a mile high, moving whole sand dunes and bringing Biblical darkness to the huge areas of the world. Scorching hot winds (up to 40 degrees Celsius) blowing the sand around with hurricane speeds... What seems extreme to us is actually a common occurrence in Africa and the Middle East. The similar sand-saturated hurricane-speed storms over Mediterranian are called Sirocco, Yugo and Ghibli. The dust (or desert sand) particles become airborne and held in suspension, creating a moving front. The convection of cold air over the heated ground maintains the storm and keeps the dust rolling.

See one such storm coming into the Israeli Negev desert from Sinai (advancing with the speed of appr. 40 mph). According to the photographer Eviathar ben Zedeff (link), the sand wall is over 4,000 ft high:
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