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BLOWIN' IN THE WIND

Earth’s fiercest dust storms, as seen from space

By Johnny Simon

While no where close to the planet-sized storm that’s been kicking up dust across Mars this last month, the sand and dust storms—sometimes known by their Arabic name, “haboobs”—that have occured in recent years on Earth are still terrifying. They can create swirling, gurgling walls of sand, creeping across the desert, making it impossible to see 20 feet in front of you.

From space, they look a bit less menacing. Though they blanket huge swaths of land, making invisible normal features and landmarks, they often appear in images taken from space as almost gentle, just wisps of sand lightly floating off the ground.

Unless otherwise indicated, these images were taken by satellites:

A massive Sahara sand storm witnessed from the International Space Station in 2014.
NASA
A massive Sahara sand seen from the International Space Station in 2014.
NASA
A swirling dust storm over China in 2001.
NASA
A dust storm blowing off the coast of Morocco in 2003.
NASA
An Afghanistan dust storm seen from the space shuttle Atlantis in 2000.
NASA
A dust storm over the Red Sea in 2016.
NASA
Saharan dust storms in March of 2018.
NASA
Dust blowing across Colorado in 2014.
NASA
A plume of dust blowing away from White Sands National Park in New Mexico.
NASA
Dust blowing off the coast of Australia in 2009.
NASA
A dust storm over the Gulf of Oman in 2003.
NASA
A 2014 dust cloud over the Caspian Sea.
NASA
A dust storm in Alaska in 2017, caused by winds picking up the dust created when glaciers grind against rocks.