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PHOTOS: Texas Towns Engulfed by Intense Dust Storm

With much of the central Plains and Southwest in the grip of a moderate to exceptional drought, high winds whipping across the parched ground have been stirring up dust storms. Unlike a haboob, which is caused by an approaching thunderstorm, dust storms are the result of high winds and dry, dusty earth.

Low pressure pushing across the country on Tuesday left a wake of strong winds across the Plains, sending dust flying into the air and spreading dangerous wildfires.

According to Meteorologist Andrew Baglini, winds gusted up to 55 mph across Lubbock, Texas. Visibility was reduced to near zero.

Dust storms can create dangerous travel conditions when visibility is lowered, as well as causing eye irritation and making breathing difficult for those prone to respiratory problems. The best way to avoid these risks is to stay inside when a dust storm is occurring, being careful to keep all doors and windows close and blocking open spaces under doors with damp towels to trap the dirt.

South Central US Interactive Radar
Air Quality Forecast
Powerful Winds Prompt Dust Storm

Dust billows into Amarillo, Texas. (Instagram/alli_smeaton)

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