The video: Near sundown on Tuesday, the people of Phoenix were swallowed in a massive cloud of dust that knocked out power to almost 10,000 people, shut down the airport, and turned swimming pools into mud pits. Although such storms are very difficult to predict, several intrepid photographers had enough warning to ready their cameras for the mile-high, 100-mile-wide haboob — the Arabic term for this kind of dust storm, used in the Sahara and Arizona. The 100-mile-wide storm "moved like a giant wave" through the city, temporarily burying skyscrapers. In this time-lapse video (Watch it below), Mike Olbinski stood atop a four-story parking garage to capture the 60 mph wall of dust.
The reaction: It's easy to believe Olbinksi when he says that in his 35 years in Phoenix, he's never seen a haboob like this, says Nancy Atkinson at Universe Today. His video of the storm is "just amazing, if not apocalyptic!" The video would have been even better if Olbinski hadn't stopped clicking "a bit short of the climax," says Jennifer Bergen at Geek.com. But of course, another five seconds filming this "storm of mythical proportions" would have destroyed his camera. If this destructive dust cloud has a silver lining, says Bryan Walsh at TIME, at least it brought some much-needed rain to Arizona. Watch the haboob roll in:
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