A particularly intense dust storm descended upon Death Valley National Park Monday afternoon. While dust storms are not an unusual for the park, a haboob, from the Arabic word for "phenomenon," is more rare.
"This one was one of a kind," explained Cheryl Chipman, Management and Program Analyst for the park. "We watched it come in... It was bizarre." She said it left about an inch of sand in her building's parking lot.
No injuries or damage have been reported.
Ranger Naomi McGraw posted pictures to Twitter and explained that a haboob is "a type of intense dust storm carried on an atmospheric gravity current." (A one-mile high haboob made international news last year when it traveled through Phoenix and into the eastern edges of Southern California. Watch a video of it here.)
The dusty event came days before the park reopens its newly revamped visitor center. Little changes were made to the to exterior of the historic building, which was constructed as part of Mission 66 - a 10-year effort to upgrade National Park Service facilities by the agency's 50th anniversary in 1966 - but the interior was significantly remodeled to reduce its carbon footprint. New windows, insulation, heating and cooling systems, and solar panels are expected to save the park an estimated $14,000 per year. The building's lobby will open and a new park film narrated by Donald Sutherland will premiere on Thursday, but interactive exhibits will not be completed until summer, when the building was originally slated to open.