Power restored, pile-ups cleared after massive dust storm hits Valley

GLENDALE, AZ - A giant wall of dust rolled through the Phoenix area on Monday, turning the sky brown, creating dangerous driving conditions and leaving hundreds without power for several hours.

Thousands of Salt River Project customers in Glendale, Phoenix and Mesa were affected by the outages at one point or another Monday evening before crews were able to fully restore power.

An Arizona Public Service spokesperson said approximately 2,200 Sun City and El Mirage customers also lost power following the massive dust storm, but the outage was repaired within an hour.

The dust, also known as a haboob in Arabic and around Arizona, formed in Pinal County and headed northeast, reaching Phoenix at about 5:30 p.m.

The dust wall was about 3,000 feet high and created winds of 25 to 30 mph, with gusts of up to 40 mph, said Austin Jamison, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

The storm also created dangerous driving conditions around our state as visibility was reduced to nearly zero.

A Department of Public Safety spokesperson said a stretch of Interstate 8 was shut down south of Casa Grande after eight commercial vehicles were involved in a collision due to the weather. Several people were taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Officials said a semi truck came to a stop in the right lane of the roadway, possibly to avoid driving in the hazardous conditions, and was struck from behind, causing a chain reaction. No passenger vehicles were involved in the crash.

ABC15 crews at the scene said the wreck severely damaged several trucks and trailers, and left fuel covering the roadway.

DPS officials warned drivers to avoid traveling during dust storms and be extra cautious when on the road during the dangerous weather events.

Some Monday flights at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport were also affected by the storm. Airport spokeswoman Julie Rodriguez said several departing flights were delayed due to the dangerous winds and blowing dust.

Incoming flights from nearby cities including Los Angeles were being held until the storm cleared, she said. She did not know how many flights were delayed or whether any were canceled.

Rodriguez said visibility at the airport was better Tuesday than it was during the July 5 haboob, which grounded flights for 45 minutes.

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