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Friday, February 28, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Clear Night 54° Clear

Spin Control

First a snowpack drought, now haboobs

A haboob hits the Phoenix area Monday. (Associated Press)
A haboob hits the Phoenix area Monday. (Associated Press)

OLYMPIA – Residents of Eastern and Central Washington should prepare for dust storms as well as wildfires this spring and summer, state officials warned Wednesday.

Last week, Gov. Jay Inslee and other state officials reported a “snowpack drought” – a shortage of snow in some of the state’s mountain ranges that means water supplies for some rivers, streams and reservoirs will likely be low this summer. The above-average temperatures and low snowpack are expected to create dry fields and forest beds throughout the eastern two-thirds of the state.

“Spring and summer thunderstorms will bring the threat of dust storms to the Columbia Basin and lightning-caused wildfires throughout the region,” Clint Bowman, an atmospheric scientist for the state Ecology Department, said in a press release.

Strong winds blowing over plowed fields can cause desert-style dust storms known as haboobs, which can create a wall of dust and dirt, cut visibility for drivers, down power lines and cause breathing problems for infants, small children and asthmatics. The department recommends residents of Central and Eastern Washington carry a dust mask, especially for children.

The National Weather Service provides forecasts for potential dust storms which can be found here. The Ecology Department has tips on how to deal with the health effects of dust storms on its site

Jim Camden
Jim Camden joined The Spokesman-Review in 1981. He is currently the political reporter and state government reporter in the newspaper's Olympia bureau office.

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