Sudden freeze brings dust storm to Colorado

Sudden freeze brings dust storm to Colorado

10 November 2014 14:15–23:30 UTC

Sudden freeze brings dust storm to Colorado
Sudden freeze brings dust storm to Colorado

A cold front brought a dramatic temperature drop of 17°C and a dust haboob to Colorado on 10 November.

Last Updated

06 September 2022

Published on

10 November 2014

Winter arrived very quickly in Colorado on the morning of 10 November, when temperatures dropped by more than 17°C in the first 30 minutes following the passage of an arctic front, as shown on the temperature trace from the Foothills lab weather station.

By lunchtime, temperatures were below the freezing mark and it was snowing. By the evening, temperatures had dropped to around -15°C in places.

Suomi NPP, 10 November 2014, 20:52 UTC
Figure 1: Suomi NPP VIIRS True Colour, 10 November 2014, 20:52 UTC
Suomi NPP, 10 November 2014, 19:13 UTC
Figure 2: Suomi NPP Dust RGB, 10 November 2014, 19:13 UTC

During the afternoon a dust storm or haboob (from the Arabic word 'habūb', meaning strong wind) was generated in eastern Colorado by 100–115kph wind gusts behind the arctic front — as seen in Figure 1-3.

Figure 3: GOES-E animation, 10 November 14:15-23:30 UTC

A haboob is a dust storm caused by convective downbursts. Haboobs are the true walls of dust and sand that most people think of as strong dust storms. Winds associated with the gust front of a dry downburst from a convective storm average 35 to 50kt and can easily generate a dust storm when they encounter an appropriate source area.

Haboobs tend to be rather small, of the order of 100 to 150km, except in the Sahel area in Africa where they can reach horizontal extensions of several hundred kilometers.


On 18 November a wall of cloud , which looked similar to a haboob, crossed Buffalo, New York, but this time it was carrying lake effect snow not dust. Within hours the city was buried under 1.5 metres (4–5 feet) of snow .


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Dusty Cold Front moves south through the Southern Plains (CIMSS Blog)
Photo: Boulder’s transformation from beautiful to brutal in under three hours (The Washington Post)

SNPP VIIRS imagery of the Buffalo event can be seen on the NASA Earth Observatory website.