The Dust Bowl drought of the 1930s featured devastating clouds of black, choking dirt that killed crops and livestock, stripped the soil, and forced countless Oklahomans and others off their land and into California.
Any veterans of that disaster will feel a chill upon viewing the time-lapse video below, shot Tuesday in Phoenix.
This unprecedented event may cause Southwest residents to fear what might happen should their region get hotter and drier, as predicted.
The “video” below is actually series of time-lapse still shots taken by Phoenix photographer Mike Olbinski, from the top of a parking garage:
As he said, “There are really not many words to describe this dust storm, or what we call it here, a haboob. I've lived in Phoenix for my entire 35 years and have never seen anything like this before. It was incredible.” (Haboob is the term used in Arabia and the Sahara to refer to a large sand storm.)
People in northern and western China – who suffer increasingly frequent sand storms – will find this scene a familiar-looking sign of the disastrous desertification that's been rapidly claiming their arable land … and dumping toxic dust over the western U.S.
In a statement on its website, The National Weather Service office in Phoenix called the dust storm “very large and historic” and an “impressive event.”
Skies turned almost black as towering clouds of dust rolled over the mountains and clogged the skies over and around Phoenix in the late afternoon and into the evening on Tuesday.
The storm cut visibility drastically and sometimes to zero across an area of some 50 miles at its peak, though there were no reports of any deaths.
Sand from the storm blasted the area in winds of up to 50 miles per hour, forcing drivers to stop on area roads until the worst of the storm passed.