Apocalyptic Time-Lapse Video of Massive Phoenix Dust Storm

by Nancy Atkinson on July 6, 2011

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The Phoenix Haboob of July 5th, 2011 from Mike Olbinski on Vimeo.

This isn’t space and astronomy-related, but this video of the massive dust storm that swept through the Phoenix area yesterday is just amazing, if not apocalyptic! Mike Olbinski, a photographer from the area shot this timelapse, and on his website says, “There are really not many words to describe this dust storm, or what we call it here (and they also do in places like the Sahara Desert)…a haboob. This was a haboob of a lifetime. I’ve lived in Phoenix for my entire 35 years of existence and have never seen anything like this before. It was incredible.”

Olbinski stood on the top of a 4-story parking garage and said people everywhere were snapping photos and video, “like madmen.”

Olbinski says he wishes he could have shot five more seconds of video, but the dust was so thick, daytime turned into night instantaneously. He also has an amazing collection of storm images and videos posted on his website.

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also is the host of the NASA Lunar Science Institute podcast and works with Astronomy Cast. Nancy is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

Anonymous July 6, 2011 at 7:14 PM

Great write-up of the haboob Nancy!

I still have a bit of a sore throat from being out in it making sure my observatory was buttoned up.

Stephane Labelle July 6, 2011 at 8:12 PM

It looks like if it was the end of the world!

Stephane Labelle July 6, 2011 at 8:12 PM

It looks like if it was the end of the world!

Ray Sanders July 6, 2011 at 8:14 PM

It wasn’t THAT bad. What’s crazy about these valley-wide dust storms is a lot of the time you can’t tell how big the storm is. Mike’s video almost makes it look like some sort of Hollywood CG effect and not something real.

Ray Sanders July 6, 2011 at 8:14 PM

It wasn’t THAT bad. What’s crazy about these valley-wide dust storms is a lot of the time you can’t tell how big the storm is. Mike’s video almost makes it look like some sort of Hollywood CG effect and not something real.

Sparks July 6, 2011 at 9:21 PM

Anthony Watts posted photos of the 22 August 2003 & Labor Day, 1972 dust storms that were
just as impressive. he was reporting about the environmentalists linking it to “climate change” without any factual basis other than “environmentalists” say so.

“…dust storms can be linked to climate change and poor farming practices”
The Atlantic

Torbjörn Larsson July 7, 2011 at 3:20 PM

Are we trolled by anti-science climate denialists? Watts is a known climate denier, he obviously isn’t a source of reliable information on the climate.

FWIW, regional attribution of AGW is now possible to the sufficient confidence that climate scientists are satisfied. There was a 2010 WIREs paper on that research, though I can’t be troubled to dig it up if this was a trolling.

So maybe or maybe not there is a factual basis in such specific cases. Who cares what Watts thinks!? The main point is that AGW is observable and acts on regional level as well as global.

Anonymous July 7, 2011 at 4:33 PM

A single event like this can’t be cited as evidence of global warming. However, a statistical change in such occurrences might be such evidence.

Climate science and meteorology are pretty far removed from my area of study. However, on a general (maybe even anecdotal) level there is little doubt that around here summers have been on average drier, and further the windy spring season is extending into summer. The last few years we have had very windy conditions persist far longer than usual, and winds whipped the Las Conchas fire that brushed Los Alamos. Windy conditions of that sort have only appeared recently, and this past June was really quite windy. This is in line with a general prognostication for the southwest as a result of climate warming.

LC

Meteodan July 7, 2011 at 8:11 PM

Precisely, no weather event, virtually by definition, can be linked specifically to any long term climate signal. This includes El Nino, the North Atlantic Oscillation, and the longer term trend of global warming. Trends of weather events over time *can* be, however. While climate science has matured to the point where we can be confident of global changes, individual regional impacts are still uncertain, but we are making strides in that direction as well.

Sparks July 7, 2011 at 6:09 PM

No, it was a fair comment pointing to more sources of information related to this topic, you are the one who sounds like they’re in denial of inconvenient information, I respect every ones opinion even someone with your discriminate attitude.
I even respect your hanging on to a hypothesis that appears to be officially dead among the scientific community, It has been conceded by the majority of AGW proponents that “there has been no global warming present since 1998″ and with the onset of the lower than usual solar activity and the main stream scientific community pointing towards a new “Maunder Minimum” and possibly a new “little ice age” it must take a lot of belief over observation that man has more influence over solar activity.

If your interested in learning some science, here’s a good start for beginners. Edward Maunder: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Walter_Maunder

(I’ve even provided a wiki link as I’m not as lazy as you.)

Meteodan July 7, 2011 at 8:07 PM

Sorry, but your statement that AGW is “officially dead” in the scientific community is so far off the mark as to be laughable. I’m a research meteorologist, and I can tell you that AGW is affirmed by virtually everyone I work with, including those who are politically conservative. Why? Because the scientific evidence points in that direction. I myself used to be skeptical, but I was convinced by the evidence, not by the political antics of such as Al Gore.

It’s certainly true that the media and even some scientists who should know better love to pick up any example of extreme weather and make unsubstantiated links to climate change. As annoying as this is, it doesn’t mean that the science is wrong on the question of climate change itself. The truth of the matter is that it is impossible almost by definition to link any particular weather event to AGW or any other climate signal, but one can link trends over time to climate change. The media just doesn’t get this, neither do many AGW skeptics that I have encountered, and unfortunately some sensationalistic scientists pour fuel on the fire.

As for solar activity, I think it’s clear that most climate scientists acknowledge that it has an impact on global temperature change. The question is, how much? If we do go into another extended Maunder-type minimum, it will be very interesting to see how it affects the observed rate of warming we have seen in the past few decades that is almost certainly due to increased C02 output from human activity. Will it slow it down substantially or even reverse it entirely? Time will tell, of course, but even if it does, it would be an effect *superimposed* upon the increased-C02 warming signal, and not a replacement or denial of it. The real question is whether such effects could end up overwhelming the increased C02-induced warming. I’m inclined to say no, but it (and this is assuming a new Maunder minimum even happens!) may take the worst of the sting away.

WaxyMary July 7, 2011 at 8:54 PM

Do you truly expect anyone to “buy” what you are selling here?

You link to an article about Ed on wiki and call that a good beginning for learning science, when it is plain for any looking to see at only a vague history of the man’s life work at that link.

I would offer you a do-over but you already used it up with your FIRST POST of the EXACT same post as you have above, shame on your trolling this site.

Check it yourself — 1:08 vs 1:09, please use the ‘refresh page, not from cache button’ to check your posting, or are you so poorly informed of this simple expediency which has been available in ANY browser for decades… that you are unaware of this means of seeing new material on a site since you last polled for the present view.

Mary

Sparks July 7, 2011 at 9:36 PM

I’m not selling anything, originally I was pointing out what was reported elsewhere on the subject to engage in friendly conversation, but in light of the reply I got I’m offering an educated opinion in kind, is that a crime?

Ken Lord July 7, 2011 at 10:36 PM

Sparks, I’m so glad you are interested in learning some science. Here’s the latest for you.

http://www.upi.com/Business_News/Energy-Resources/2011/07/06/Sulfur-emissions-mask-global-warming/UPI-57601309979567/

I’m sure you can track down the actual paper if you are truly interested.

The latest study on the pause in global warming you speak of indicates that it was due to a massive increase in sulfur released to the atmosphere as China ramped up it’s dirty coal burning power plants. The cooling effects of the sulfur masked the heating effects including the heating from their increased CO2 emissions.

China has now greatly reduced it’s sulfur emissions, but CO2 remains. The pause will be over soon if it isn’t already.

It’s happened before, the last ramp up in heating coming after sulfur emissions were cut to reduce acid rain.

Funny how things work when you look at ALL the data, instead of just what supports your preferred view.

Regarding the Maunder Minimum, who cares if another one is coming? When it’s over (assuming it’s even strong enough to overcome our CO2 emissions), heating will resume all the faster. Certainly you wouldn’t wish that upon your descendants.

Sparks July 8, 2011 at 2:29 AM

Hi Ken,
I managed to track down the PDF linked from an article (I’ll provide the link below).

I have two questions if you can answer them I’d be happy to hear your thoughts!

Do you feel comfortable enough to accept the results from the tweaking of a statistical model that is known and has been accepted as a failure in showing the current cooling?

And now that the model has been tweaked with a new set of variables would you not agree with me in saying that the interpretation of the new variables are as yet unknown and therefore remain purely conjecture?

Judith Curry has written a review and commented on her blog about this paper and provided comments to a reporter for a Science News article you might be interested in.

“This paper points out that global coal consumption (primarily from China) has increased significantly, although the dataset referred to shows an increase only since 2004-2007 (the period 1985-2003 was pretty stable). The authors argue that the sulfates associated with this coal consumption have been sufficient to counter the greenhouse gas warming during the period 1998-2008, which is similar to the mechanism that has been invoked to explain the cooling during the period 1940-1970.

I don’t find this explanation to be convincing because the increase in sulfates occurs only since 2004 (the solar signal is too small to make much difference). Further, translating regional sulfate emission into global forcing isn’t really appropriate, since atmospheric sulfate has too short of an atmospheric lifetime (owing to cloud and rain processes) to influence the global radiation balance.

The alternative explanation is natural internal variability associated with the ocean oscillations. Since 1999, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation has been shifting from the warm phase (warm phase since 1976) to the cool phase, and has been mostly in the cool phase since 2007. A cool PDO is associated with more frequent La Nina events, which are associated with globally cooler temperatures. The climate model studies cited by the authors do not do a convincing job of ruling out natural internal variability as an explanation, either for the cool period since 1998, and the earlier cool period during 1940-1970.

In summary, the authors have put forward one possible explanation for the lack of warming, but an explanation associated with natural internal variability associated with the ocean oscillations is at least as plausible as the explanation put forward by the authors.”

http://judithcurry.com/2011/07/04/an-explanation-for-lack-of-warming-since-1998/

(The PDF it’s self can be found coincidentally over at WUWT)
http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/pnas-201102467.pdf

Anonymous July 6, 2011 at 9:25 PM

RUUUUUNNNNN!!!!

But the black&white shot is even more stunning, incredible.

Anonymous July 7, 2011 at 12:06 PM

Excellent

Eric Scott Sembrat July 7, 2011 at 2:44 PM

Best video/time lapse I’ve seen of this so far. Amazing quality and depth.

The clouds instantaneously appearing above the haboob just freaks me out. Very cool stuff.

Sparks July 7, 2011 at 6:08 PM

No, it was a fair comment pointing to more sources of information related to this topic, you are the one who sounds like they’re in denial of inconvenient information, I respect every ones opinion even someone with your discriminate attitude.
I even respect your hanging on to a hypothesis that appears to be officially dead among the scientific community, It has been conceded by the majority of AGW proponents that “there has been no global warming present since 1998″ and with the onset of the lower than usual solar activity and the main stream scientific community pointing towards a new “Maunder Minimum” and possibly a new “little ice age” it must take a lot of belief over observation that man has more influence over solar activity.

If your interested in learning some science, here’s a good start for beginners. Edward Maunder: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Walter_Maunder

(I’ve even provided a wiki link as I’m not as lazy as you.)

Mike Olbinski July 9, 2011 at 6:54 AM

Just wanted to add my thanks to Universe Today for linking to this video and my blog! It’s been an awesome week for me personally, have been having a ton of fun!

WaxyMary July 7, 2011 at 11:14 PM

Your educated opinion ain’t, just sayin’.

Mary
Who dislikes those acting as dumb as a post when they are only brighter than a street lamp by a few candles.

WaxyMary July 7, 2011 at 11:14 PM

Your educated opinion ain’t, just sayin’.

Mary
Who dislikes those acting as dumb as a post when they are only brighter than a street lamp by a few candles.

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