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More Frequent Dust Storms Could Be in Our Future

On-Demand Cloud SIP Trunking

On-Demand Cloud SIP Trunking

The thick dust cloud formed in minutes, engulfing part of Interstate 55—Illinois’s main thoroughfare between Saint Louis and Chicago—in blizzardlike whiteout conditions on May 1. Drivers slammed on their brakes but not quickly enough. Car after car collided, leaving seven dead and the mangled remains of 72 vehicles lining both sides of the highway.

For a tragedy like this to occur in the Midwest, a perfect storm of factors must come together, says National Weather Service meteorologist Chuck Schaffer, who tracked the imposing wall of dust on satellite imagery. In this case, straight-line winds swept across crop fields near the interstate just after farmers plowed them, loosening topsoil that was left unusually dry by weeks without rain. That combination of circumstances doesn’t happen often, which means that dust storms are rare in Illinois. But researchers warn that with the effects of climate change and the ever expanding agricultural industry, such storms could be a growing problem across the Great Plains and Midwest. That concern has even led some scientists to…

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