- Author: Jessica Testa
- Category: Valley News
- Issue: Mar 2012
How now, brown cloud? As State agencies struggle to clean up the harmful pollution that hangs over the Phoenix skyline, the recent rash of haboobs stirs up even more trouble. — why won’t the brown cloud just blow away?
Last July, a mammoth, billowing dust cloud tumbled into the Valley, crashing into skyscrapers and enveloping cookie-cutter homes in a scene ripped straight from a CGI-heavy apocalypse movie. Afterward, T-shirts were sold – “I Survived the Great Phoenix Haboob” – while YouTube was flooded with shaky cell phone videos captured from passenger seats.
The Valley had seen high-wind events before, but in the memories of countless environment and weather service officials, no storm could compare to the July 5 event. That single, sinister cloud rolled into the city carrying two years’ worth of pollution.
The dust eventually settled, and the summer’s monsoon season fizzled away in a series of smaller sandstorms. But for the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ), the storm began long before and still rages on.
For years, the county had been exceeding federal standards for levels of PM10, a dust particle that contributes to air pollution, causes breathing problems and stimulates Phoenix’s brown cloud – that smudgy, ominous miasma smeared above the city, usually on still, cloudless days. ADEQ estimates that the “Great Phoenix H