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Dust, Thunder and Hail Storms Zap Phoenix Area

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The Phoenix area got smacked with a double-whammy on Wednesday as both a dust storm and thunderstorm wreaked a bit of havoc, though no injuries were reported.

The Associated Press reported that “nickel-sized hail” hit Pinal and Maricopa counties, along with 60-mph winds. Lightning strikes sparked three fires, two in homes and one at a cardboard recycling company.

Elsewhere in the metropolitan area, the AP said, a dust storm was kicked up by the clash of northbound winds from the southern part of the state that slammed into eastern winds that were heading northeast.

The Arizona Republic reported that the storm “toppled power lines, felled trees and ripped mobile homes off their foundations,” leaving at least 1,700 people without power, most of them in the Ajo and Buckeye areas. About 7,000 more in the area of the Salt River Project power company lost power briefly but it was restored, the newspaper said.

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“Responders for Rural/Metro reported seeing a wall of dust coming from one direction and a wall of rain from the opposite,” the Republic said. “The storms collided over the trailer park.”

As if that weren’t enough, the National Weather Service reported what it calls gustnadoes in front of the thunderstorms. These are “spinning winds resembling a large dust devil,” the Republic said, and they ripped off pieces of homes and dropped it in streets and yards. In west Phoenix, debris burned at American Recycling Industries and threatened a cardboard-storage warehouse nearby.

Pinal County is home to many Native populations, and several reservations, including part of the Tohono O’odham Nation, the Gila River Indian Community the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation and the Ak-Chin Indian Community.