A massive, dramatic dust storm more often associated with the Southwest blew through Eastern Washington and north Idaho on Tuesday evening in advance of thunderstorms, lightning and rain.
Washington state troopers say the dust storm or haboob reduced visibility to zero in parts of Whitman and Adams counties, leading to numerous traffic accidents, especially in the Ritzville area southwest of Spokane.
The Spokesman-Review reports (http://is.gd/ML9FvQ ) that crashes in the wake of the dust cloud temporarily closed eastbound Interstate 90 west of Ritzville.
Avista Utilities says nearly 10,000 customers temporarily lost power in the Spokane and Palouse areas and in the Grangeville, Idaho, area.
National Weather Service meteorologist Matt Fugazzi says Washington gets a dust storm like this every couple of years. He says winds of 40 to 50 mph kicked up a wall of dust in advance of the thunderstorms as the weather front moved up through Eastern Washington and western Idaho and kept heading north.
Spokane International Airport reported gusts at 30 mph.
Derived from the Arabic word haab, which means wind or blow, haboobs (pronounced huh-boobs ) are very strong dust and sand storms that move through hot and dry regions, the National Weather Service says.
They are common in arid regions such as the Sahara desert, the Arabian Peninsula, North Africa and the Gulf of Guinea.