PHOENIX – A record-setting monsoon season meant more than just rain falling from the clouds over southern Arizona Friday, a wall of dust known as a haboob moved across the landscape dropping visibilities and forcing people inside.
The National Weather Service issued a Dust Advisory south of Phoenix because of the poor visibilities created by the haboob.
A haboob is simply a wall of dust created by winds from thunderstorms or heavy rains. As a cell’s downdraft hits the ground, air rushes outward in all directions forcing tiny particles into the air.
Videos from the region captured the stunning moments visibilities dropped to less than a mile around 4 o’clock on Friday afternoon.
The NWS said the dust likely led to dangerous driving conditions near and along the Interstate 8 corridor.
In addition to the dust, communities along the U.S.-Mexico border also saw flooding rains, especially in low-lying and poor drainage areas.
Doppler radar indicated some thunderstorms produced more than 2 inches of rain, and there was more heavy rain in the forecast.
Flood Watches have been issued by the National Weather Service through Sunday for more than 8 million people because of the threat of additional heavy rains.
On Saturday, the greatest risk of flooding will most likely be focused on southern Arizona, New Mexico and extreme west Texas. This includes Tucson, Arizona; Las Cruces, New Mexico; and El Paso, Texas.
"If you hear a Flash Flood Warning, you want to get off the roads immediately. It happens extremely quickly," FOX Weather meteorologist Britta Merwin said. "Within 15 minutes, you can find yourself with about 6 inches to 12 inches of rushing water around you. So if you live in these areas, you want to make sure that your notifications are turned on, and you’re listening to those warnings later today."
Rainfall totals of 1 and 2 inches are expected from southern Arizona into southern New Mexico through late Saturday, with localized communities picking up 5 inches.
Forecast models show a significant decrease in precipitation to start the workweek, which will help communities recently inundated with rain.