A large storm system brought a rare snowfall to California and thunderstorms to the Southern Plains in late February 2023. The system also generated strong winds that caused a massive amount of dust to be lofted into the air, darkening skies across northwestern Texas, northern Mexico, and eastern New Mexico.
According to news reports, numerous areas were affected by wind gusts exceeding 110 km/h (70 mph). Memphis, Texas, recorded a peak gust of 183 km/h (114 mph), which could rival the wind speeds of a major hurricane.
The event caused significant health hazards and adverse effects on air quality in Lubbock, Texas, where the fine particulate matter (PM2.5) reached 158 on the air quality index, which is considered unhealthy for otherwise healthy individuals.
This dust storm was so intense that it was visible from space, as captured by the Advanced Baseline Imager on the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite 16 (GOES-16) operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Featured image credit: NOAA/GOES-East. Acquired on February 26, 2023
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