Severe Dust Storm May Shroud Drought-stricken Panhandles

State College, Pa. — 8 April 2011 — reports a severe dust storm may shroud much of the drought-stricken Panhandles in Texas and Oklahoma over the weekend as an approaching storm system produces tropical storm force winds.

The storm system will create very strong winds in the area, with gusts up to 40 mph on Saturday, and 55 to 60 mph on Sunday. The gusty winds and low humidity will allow blowing dust to develop, due to the recent dry conditions.

Late winter to mid-spring is the season most prone to dust storms for the southern Plains. Storms at this time of year are highly energetic with powerful winds that easily scoop up the region’s earth.

Current indications are that the worst will arrive on Sunday afternoon, Senior Meteorologist Dale Mohler said, with visibility slipping to as low as a quarter mile in some places of the region.

The dust storm could severely impact traffic in local areas and on interstates, such as I-40. The National Weather Service announced a High Wind Watch on Friday morning, suggesting motorists prepare for possible road closure in dust prone regions.

People who live in that area should also use caution for other dust-related effects at home, as dust could easily get into one’s home through window cracks, or even make a car’s engine inoperable.

Dust from the southern Plains storm could mix with rain further north and east, causing brown or red colored rain over the midwest. However, Mohler said, little rain is expected over the next few days. Humidity levels will remain low, providing very littler moisture to the atmosphere.

In addition, Mohler said the wheat, which has already been harshly affected by the extreme drought, is expected to be “sand-blasted” by high winds on Saturday and Sunday.

The conditions will improve on Monday, according to Mohler, as the storm moves away and winds die down.

Story by Bo Zhang, Writer for

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