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Satellite imagery shows massive haboob overtaking parts of Desert Southwest, Mexico

todayJune 19, 2024 2

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DEMING, N.M. – Winds from strong to severe thunderstorms that impacted West Texas and New Mexico on Wednesday evening triggered a massive dust storm, known as a haboob, which was even visible from space. The National Weather Service office in El Paso, Texas, issued a series of Dust Storm Warnings for southern New Mexico around the Interstate 10 corridor. Meteorologists warned that visibilities could suddenly drop to less than a quarter of a mile, posing dangers for travel along local interstates.Haboobs are triggered when gusty winds pick up sand and dust, forming what appears to be a wall that can stretch for miles and rise thousands of feet high. The term originates from Arabic culture but has been adopted by other languages to describe the phenomenon of blowing dust in desert regions around the world. While most of the world’s dust storms occur in the Middle East and Africa, they occasionally happen in the Desert Southwest, especially during the warmer months of the year.DUST STORMS ARE MORE DANGEROUS THAN PREVIOUSLY THOUGHTWednesday evening’s event was even spotted by NOAA’s GOES-16 satellite, which orbits more than 22,000 miles above Earth’s surface. Haboobs typically affect a community’s visibility and air quality for only a few minutes but can travel hundreds of miles. Despite the impressive signature on satellite imagery, there were no immediate reports of damage or significant traffic crashes related to Wednesday’s event.Earlier in the day, poor visibility likely played a role in a massive pile-up outside of Albuquerque in Sandoval County. New Mexico State Police said parts of Interstate 25 were shut down, so first responders could attend to numerous injured motorists.WHAT IS A HABOOB? IT’S JUST DUST IN THE WIND…The impacts from dust storms and haboobs are similar and can catch drivers off guard, similar to blizzards in the northern latitudes.Previous studies have found the deadliest roadways from dust storms are between Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona, and in southwestern New Mexico. The Interstate 10 corridor in the Desert Southwest is often a hotspot for impacts.Local NWS offices have the authority to issue alerts and warnings to give travelers a heads-up about impending conditions, but since these events are unpredictable, meteorologists encourage motorists and residents to always have a plan ready.

Written by: Badlands Classic Rock

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