The US city of Phoenix, Arizona was last night engulfed in a massive 50-mile-wide dust storm at the beginning of the region’s monsoon season – running from mid-July until September. The gargantuan brown cloud engulfed homes, fields and even skyscrapers as it made its way across the city.
Video footage of the dust storm captured from a helicopter is reminiscent of disaster movie Independence Day as cars, planes and pedestrians struggle to negotiate with severely restricted vision. The video shows the massive cloud gradually engulfing most of downtown Phoenix.
Monsoon season brings with it strong winds of around 60 miles per hour, which move the dust cloud North West through Arizona. Communities in the area were placed on a severe thunderstorm alert until 11 PM local time. The dust cloud and storms also left thousands without power overnight. The winds also downed power lines and started a fire, but local brigades were able to quickly extinguish the flames before any major damage was sustained.
The United States Federal Aviation Administration announced that no Phoenix-bound flights were allowed to leave Los Angeles and Las Vegas until 9 PM last night due to the terrible visibility conditions. All of the flights were grounded for around an hour, causing passenger delays.
The dust cloud follows severe dry conditions in the region which resulted in Arizona’s second largest ever wildfire. The conditions even prompted neighbouring state New Mexico to ban the sale of fireworks due to the risk of fires starting in the dry conditions – especially over the 4th of July celebrations.