Colorado Dust Storm Was Visible From Space

Conditions on the ground were more alarming

NOAA dust cloud image
That is not a small dust cloud.

When you think of things on Earth that are visible from space, one of the first things to come to mind is probably not dust storms. And yet for several hours on January 15, a huge dust storm in Colorado proved to be so massive that a satellite operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration was able to detect it, making for some stunning images as the storm made it way across the landscape.

It also prompted the NOAA’s social media department to channel their inner Kansas. (The band, not the state.)

As Alyse Stanley writes at Earther, what made for a stunning vista from space was cause for alarm on the planet’s surface. Winds in Pueblo were clocked at speeds over 60 mph, and warnings about dust storms and blowing dust were both issued for the region. The winds also heightened the danger posed by fire — one more worrying development for the day.

That wasn’t the only alarming aspect of the dust storm. Drivers experienced low visibility, and a crash due to the storm killed one person and left 15 with injuries. Taken together, these events are a reminder of the ways that disasters — natural and otherwise — can go hand in hand.

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