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    Phoenix Sandstorm Blackens the Sky in New Time-lapse Video

    June 19, 2012; 3:45 PM ET
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    "This is a timelapse of the Phoenix Sandstorm from Maricopa, AZ that hit at 5.30 PM" on June 16, YouTube poster whittakerbrock wrote.

    Dust storms are common in the southwestern U.S. during the summer, which is the region's monsoon season. During the monsoon, an overall shift in winds across the Southwest draw in tropical moisture, resulting in a significant increase in thunderstorm activity and rainfall.

    Thunderstorms that develop can produce strong downdrafts, or "downbursts", which are powerful winds that blast downward and outward from the thunderstorms.

    When this happens, dry, loose sand on the desert floors can get kicked up, creating a wall of dust that travels outward, spanning a much larger area than the thunderstorm itself.

    Dust storms that develop in this way are also called haboobs. They can happen in desert regions across the world.

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