National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

     An unusually strong summer cold front swept through the Inland Northwest on July 12th, 2010. Strong winds created a dust storm in locations on the Columbia Basin. Visibilities were reduced to near-zero is some spots, causing accidents and road closures. Click here for a map of the wind gust reports.

     Below is a MODIS True Color visible image showing the plumes of dust (center part of the image), as well as the smoke from the Swakane Fire north of Wenatchee (left part of image). Click on the image to see a larger view (4.4 Mb)


MODIS True Color Image


     The image below shows the visible satellite image with the dust plume just north of Moses Lake (KMWH). Click on this image to get an animated loop (12Mb!!!) which shows the origin and movement of the dust plume through the afternoon hours.


Visible Satellite Image


Scott Bachmeier of CIMSS put together a web blog of more satellite imagery from this event.

     Web cameras also did a great job of showing the blowing dust. The images below from the Wilson Creek Airport had some of the best imagery. Click on the images for a movie loop (4 Mb).



Wilson Creek Airport South



Wilson Creek Airport East



     The plume of dust spread more than 100 miles to the east. The webcam images from Interstate 90 on the west edge of Spokane show the dimished visibility. Click on the images for movie loops, which show the constantly changing visibility during the afternoon.


I-90 at SR902


I-90 at Thomas Mallen Rd

By Ron Miller