A huge sandstorm and heavy rain have battered Arizona State, knocking out electricity to about 4,500 homes. Residents of Phoenix, Maricopa County reported seeing a massive wall of dust at around 2pm local time on Friday 16 October.
The wind was reported to be so strong that they bent the goal posts on a football field in Tempe and a Special Olympics opening ceremony was also cancelled, according to Arizona's 3TV. The City of Chandler official Twitter page described it as a "biggie". While Phoenix resident Jennifer Rojas took a number of photos from a plane showing the scale of the sand storm.
— City of Chandler, AZ (@cityofchandler) October 16, 2015
— Jennifer Rojas (@JennRojas) October 16, 2015
Thunderstorms also hit the city of Phoenix after the sand storm, with the local fire department saying lightning struck a two-storey apartment building, causing a small fire on the roof, 3TV reported.
A second lightning strike hit a hotel across the road from the apartments, but there were no injuries reported from either strike. Meteorologist Dr. Matt Pace for KPNX-TV told the channel that a wind gust of 64 mph was also reported at the Gila Bend airport earlier Friday.
Officials issued a dust storm warning, but it expired about an hour later once the dust had passed. Pace said that dust storms similar to the one that passed over Phoenix can range 2,000 to 5,000 feet in height.