PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Yes, there have been summers without a major dust storm in Phoenix. Probably. But we’re guessing about that because no one really kept track of dust storms back in the day. Dust storms would get coverage in the media, if warranted, and might be noted in the weather records if the storm did some sort of damage, caused injuries or resulted in fatalities.
Mostly, summer dust storms happened, and people didn’t get too worked up about it.
That changed in the summer of 2011.
It was the big one. It was a historic dust storm. It consumed the Valley with an ugly dust cloud so big that some thought was Armageddon. The reason? The internet. It was a huge storm and was unlike anything we’d seen in years. However, one, young storm chaser got a crazy good video of the dust devouring downtown Phoenix. It went viral. Mega viral.
Ever hear of Mike Olbinski?
So now we’re hyperaware of dust storms. We’re keeping better records of them in Arizona. But the record-keeping can be challenging because dust storms tend to defy being defined by a single point, say, Sky Harbor Airport.
Enough of the preamble, Royal. Get to the story. We haven’t had a year in recent memory without a major dust storm during the monsoon. Except for this year. So far. And Paul Horton called it. In February. Or it might have been March. But he called it, the summer without dust.
Remember all the rain we had, especially in areas to the south of the Valley this past winter and spring.
[RELATED: Map shows Arizona free of short-term drought]
One day Paul is sitting here in the office and he said, “I wonder if we could have a summer without a dust storm because of all this rain?” The desert was green, but we knew it wasn’t going to stay green long. It was an audacious idea.
Later that day or the next, his idea had taken root, and he called a friend over at the National Weather Service and asked, “Could we have a summer without a dust storm?” The meteorologist, Ken Waters, replied, “Yeah, we’ve been talking about that, too.”
Now the summer isn’t over, and weather is weather. Anything can happen. However, we’ve had some crazy, strong outflow boundaries that have formed to the south of us and moved over the Valley with virtually no dust and certainly not a well-defined dust storm.
[ALSO BY ROYAL: Everything you need to know about Arizona's weather]
I just talked with the National Weather Service and they’ve only issued one dust storm warning this summer. It was for the extreme southeast Valley, out around Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport. There was another night earlier in the summer when we had some decent blowing dust in many parts of the Valley, but nothing to raise the dust storm alarm.
Will 2019 be the summer without a major dust storm? If so, Paul Horton called it.