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Monsoon Downburst

I love seeing a thunderstorm in action. Normally when you are just minding your own business, you just see the clouds move in, maybe some dust blows ahead of them and then the rain/lightning starts. But rarely do you get to see the origin of all that stuff.


This is the second opportunity I've had this summer to see a dust storm forming. The first I posted last week, The Birth of a Monsoon Dust Storm, which was a fun "time lapse" of sorts. But today's photo really shows you the raw power of a thunderstorm's downdraft and what it can do. You might also consider this a microburst.


I shot this on Saturday afternoon where storms were producing 65mph winds, hail and all kinds of lightning. Sometimes you can get a downdraft like this and not see the same results, but the storms were fairly severe on this day and so you get to see something kind of cool. The dust you see forming on the edges above looks like it's just on either side of the storm, but in reality, it was spreading in all angles and just hadn't picked up any dust yet.


While this is a great way to see how a dust storm begins, it's nothing like the giant Haboobs we sometimes get where multiple cells like the above storm are all grouped together and producing many downdrafts that join forces to send massive walls of dust headed towards Phoenix.

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Taken on August 28, 2010