Residents cleaning up after first dust storm of season rolls through Phoenix area

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- The first storm to hit the Valley this monsoon season brought a massive dust storm, strong winds, heavy rainfall and lightning on the eve of Fourth of July.

A wall of dust signaled the beginning of the storm as it moved from the south into the Valley, keeping a Dust Storm Warning and a Blowing Dust Advisory in effect until late into the evening.

The National Weather Service reported that visibility was falling below one quarter of a mile, posing dangerous conditions to motorists at the beginning of a heavy travel weekend.

The dust storm also impacted air travel, canceling at least three flights at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, according to spokeswoman Julie Rodriguez.

Rodriguez said takeoffs and landings were suspended at the airport between 8 and 8:30 p.m., but operations resumed shortly after. All three runways were open by 8:45 p.m.

According to Rodriguez, at least 24 inbound flights were diverted to other airports.

During 3TV's four-hour coverage of the weather, reporter Jaime Cerreta got caught in the dust storm at Interstate 10 and Pecos Road. She said she saw firsthand how quickly a dust storm can move and how dangerous it can become.

Wind gusts reached 50 mph, and downed powerlines and trees were reported around the Valley.

SRP crews were working to restore power to about 14,000 customers and APS to about 11,000.

"Our No. 1 concern for all of our customers is safety, so that's the first thing that we're having our crews do out there is to make all the areas where they see downed wires and poles safe for themselves and the people around the area," said APS spokesman Steven Godfried.

The wind and dust were followed by rain, prompting a Small Stream Flood Advisory for the West Valley. Surprise, Sun City and Peoria saw about one inch of rain within an hour.

However, only a trace of rain was officially reported at Phoenix Sky Harbor Thursday night. At least 0.01 inch is needed to consider the 122-day dry spell broken.

The last measurable rainfall at Sky Harbor was on March 2.

Lightning lit up the night sky and may have been the cause of two fires in an industrial complex in west Phoenix. The Phoenix Fire Department said the first- and second-alarm fires broke out at the same time near 43rd Avenue and Indian School Road and were being fueled by the high winds.

Valley residents who stayed close to home for Fourth of July weekend were disappointed when fireworks shows were canceled due to the storm.

Many people tried to wait the storm out at the Ahwatukee Country Club, hoping the Red White & Boom fireworks show would go on, but the Ahwatukee Foothills Chamber of Commerce finally decided to cancel the event.

"It's a safety issue for the families that are here tonight, with the thunderstorm coming in and the lightning," said chamber CEO Ann Gill. "We're disappointed, as are a lot of people who are still here hoping to see fireworks, but that's the safest thing for our community."

Gill said she wasn't surprised to see so many people stick around as the storm rolled in.

"I think most Arizonans, we know the dust storms that come through," she said. "But I think typically that first dust storm of the season is usually a pretty big one, and unfortunately it just happened to choose to be today."

David Urbinato, spokesman for the Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department, said the Light Up the Sky fireworks display at Maryvale Baseball Park was called off around 9 p.m. due to the heavy rain and high winds.


Phoenix Dust Storm (7-3-14) from Bryan Snider on Vimeo.

Phoenix Dust Storm (7-3-14) from Chris Frailey on Vimeo.

Dust storm hits Phoenix, flights grounded

PHOENIX (AP) -- A blinding dust storm swept through central Arizona and prompted the grounding of flights at Phoenix's main airport.

Sky Harbor International Airport spokeswoman Julie Rodriguez says the suspension of all inbound and outbound flights took effect about 8 p.m. PDT Thursday.

She says that the Federal Aviation Administration is communicating with airlines about their flights.

Meteorologist Charlotte Dewey of the National Weather Service said that the storm swept into the Phoenix area about 7:30 p.m. and was expected to linger for three to four hours.

A dust storm warning for the Phoenix area is in effect until 9 p.m.

Dewey reminds drivers that roads can be especially hazardous during dust storms.

The Weather Service is predicting a 30 to 35 percent chance of rain for Friday.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


PHOENIX -- The National Weather Service in Phoenix has issued a Dust Storm Warning until 10 p.m. Thursday evening.

A Blowing dust advisory remains in effect until 10 p.m.

Affected area include central and southwest Maricopa County, including the southern and western portions of the Phoenix metropolitan area.

 3TV reporter Jaime Cerreta caught in dust storm


PHOENIX -- The National Weather Service in Phoenix has issued a Dust Storm Warning until 8 p.m. Thursday evening.

A Blowing dust advisory remains in effect until 8 p.m. Thursday evening.

Affected areas include southwest Maricopa County and northern Pinal County, including the cities of Gila Bend and Casa Grande, along with Interstate 8 and Interstate 10.

Blowing dust will impact the area through 8 p.m.

Winds are gusting up to 45 mph.

Visibility is falling below one quarter mile.

Dense blowing dust will make driving hazardous with severely limited visibility.


PHOENIX -- The monsoon is beginning in Arizona and that means storm chances are on the rise.

Thursday afternoon, Doppler radar showed storms across the Mogollon Rim, White Mountains and into southeastern Arizona. There’s a potential for outflow boundaries from these storms to produce blowing dust in the Valley Thursday evening. Isolated thunderstorms for the Valley are also a possibility through the nighttime hours.

The National Weather Service in Tucson issued a Blowing Dust Advisory until 8 p.m. Thursday for portions of Pinal, Pima and Santa Cruz counties, including the notorious I-10 corridor between Picacho Peak and Tucson.

Storm chances in the Valley peak on the Fourth of July as moisture and instability increase. Those storms could produce gusty winds, lightning, rain and kick up dust.

Storm chances continue across most of Arizona, including the Valley, through the weekend.

As moisture in the atmosphere increases, overnight lows will rise and daytime highs will drop. Look for morning lows in the upper 80s across the Valley, with daytime highs around 105.