Photo in the News: Dust Storm Bedevils Iraq

Photo: Dust storm in Iraq
Email to a Friend

April 29, 2005—Mother Nature launched her own desert storm in western Iraq near the Syrian and Jordanian border earlier this week. U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Shannon Arledge snapped this photo of an encroaching dust storm at Al Asad on Tuesday. The tempest reportedly lasted 45 minutes and may have reached a mile (1.6 kilometers) into the sky.

The unusually strong sandstorm was caused by a downburst, according to the U.S. Marine Corps Web site, which quoted Gunnery Sgt. John B. Badeaux, a weather forecaster for the Second Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward). "A downburst is a strong downdraft resulting in an outward burst of damaging winds at ground level," he explained. "Downburst winds can produce damage similar to a strong tornado."

Dust storms that turn day to night are not unique to the Middle East. In China windborne clouds of dust from Inner Mongolia blanket the far-off capital, Beijing, nearly a dozen times a year. In North Africa, Sahara sandstorms can whip dust into the upper atmosphere, transporting the dust to Greenland and beyond. Australia is not immune, either. Dust storms kicked up in the outback can enshroud the city of Melbourne, hundreds of miles distant.

—Sean Markey

See More Photos in the News
See Today's Top Stories

Free E-Mail News Updates
Sign up for our Inside National Geographic newsletter. Every two weeks we'll send you our top stories and pictures (see sample).

NEWS FEEDS    After installing a news reader, click on this icon to download National Geographic News's XML/RSS feed. After installing a news reader, click on this icon to download National Geographic News's XML/RSS feed.

Get our news delivered directly to your desktop—free.
How to Use XML or RSS



50 Drives of a Lifetime

Listen to your favorite National Geographic news daily, anytime, anywhere from your mobile phone. No wires or syncing. Download Stitcher free today.