Watts Up With That? 
Thursday, July 7, 2011
When I first saw this photo in news stories today, my first thought was “how long before somebody idiotically links this to global warming aka climate change aka climate disruption” (take your pick)?
The answer, not long. From The Atlantic  we have this pronouncement:
Environmentalists remind us  that the conditions that create dust storms can be linked to climate change and poor farming practices. Today, the Earth is twice as dusty as it was in the 19th-century. At least we have YouTube and Twitpic to document the incredibly terrifying consequences?
Here’s some spectacular video of what is called a Haboob  in progress yesterday. I find it more interesting than “terrifying”:
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
I had to laugh when I saw the title of this one.
Doomsday? Really? Dust storms might be an annoyance, and may shut down things we take for granted like air travel and sometimes road travel, but they hardly equate to doomsday. I’ll save that for when the sun goes nova or some crazy political/zealot faction starts setting off nukes.
Seems that dust storms in desert cities aren’t that uncommon, such as this one in Phoenix in 2003:
And more examples:
Dust Storm Rises Over Phoenix on Labor Day, 1972. No Rain Had Fallen in the Area for 153 Days , 06/1972. Dust Storm Picture from Environmental Protection Agency.
From Wikipedia, notable dust storms 
- 1954-1991: The multi-year droughts in portions of North America of 1954-56, 1976–78, and 1987-91 were noted for dust storms of the intensity seen in the middle 1930s over some fraction of their coverage and timespan, and more sporadically during the times between. The three multi-year droughts were similar to the 1930s in storms being raised by synoptic scale weather events such as cyclones and cold fronts; otherwise the most common trigger is the outflow from convective activity, known as a haboob . Significant events of the latter variety occurred in Colorado and Kansas in May 2004 with winds to 100 mph, Minnesota and Wisconsin in June 2004 causing significant damage, and the upper Middle West in May 1988, notable for strong electrification and lightning activity and by one estimate reaching 30 000 ft or more. The first and third of this list reached black blizzard intensity, causing total blackout for some period ranging from 90 sec to 10 or more minutes, over some fraction of the ground covered. The 1987-91 drought was especially notable as in the 1930s for the large number of rain of mud events, often generated by dust in suspension and/or carried on upper-level winds.
- 1971: A dust storm that occurred near Tucson, Arizona on July 16 was extensively documented by meteorologists.
Dec 1, 1982 – High winds kicked up dust storms from near the California border, to Gila Bend, south of Phoenix. minutes,” said Keith the state’s chief National Weather Service … The San Diego Zoo was closed Tuesday for the fifth time in its 66- year history after wind blew down eucalyptus trees. …
From Mean Storm Hits Calif., Moves East . 
Aug 20, 1999 – A large dust storm moves into the downtown Phoenix area causing 90-minute flight delays at the Sky Harbor International Airport. Wind gusts of up to 45 mph hampered visibility as the dust storm swept through the metro area from the southern portions of Arizona. …
From Phoenix gets down and dirty in big dust storm | Deseret News