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Video: Dust storms sweeps through Lubbock, Texas

  1. Transcript of: Dust storms sweeps through Lubbock, Texas

    BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: The folks in west Texas say it was the worst dust storm in decades, and it swept through Lubbock yesterday in a way that reminded some of the veterans, the old-timers, of the dust bowl storms back in the 1930s . The story tonight from Texas and NBC 's Jay Gray .

    Offscreen Voice #1: Wow!

    JAY GRAY reporting: Home video captured the scene in west Texas . The horizon looked like something from a science fiction thriller.

    Offscreen Voice #2: That is terrifying.

    GRAY: But for residents in Lubbock , Texas , it was no movie.

    Unidentified Woman: It was horrible. Scary really. Just a big old black cloud of dust.

    GRAY: That 8,000-foot- high wall of dust washed across the high plains pushed by hurricane-force winds.

    JOHN ROBISON reporting: We had wind gusts of 74 miles an hour. Let's show you some video, and this is going to be from our NewsChannel 11 tower cam. This was during our 6:00 newscast, and watch the wall of dust.

    GRAY: The winds bent power poles and ripped buildings apart.

    Lieutenant GAVIN DANIEL (Lubbock Fire Department): And we saw a third of our roof get blown across the back parking lot, and it landed on several cars and some of it ended up about a hundred yards away.

    GRAY: A severe gust left a massive cargo plane with its nose in the air. At first, many thought it might be a tornado. But it was actually a fast-moving cold front whipping up wind and dust, the latest consequence of the devastating drought that continues to grip this entire state.

    Voice #2: Look at all the dust! Oh, my God!

    ROBISON: I've never seen anything really this severe in west Texas .

    Offscreen Voice #3: It is 5:30 in the afternoon right now.

    GRAY: As the seasons change and the drought continues, Texas runs the risk of more scenes like this when dust turns day into night. Jay Gray, NBC News, Fort Worth.

updated 10/18/2011 10:14:43 AM ET 2011-10-18T14:14:43

Winds gusting at more than 70 mph churned up a dust storm that roiled through the Texas South Plains during the Monday afternoon commute.

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Dust kicked up by westerly breezes ahead of a strong cold front restricted visibility in Lubbock to about 5 miles all afternoon, said National Weather Service Lubbock meteorologist Matt Ziebell.

That was nothing compared to the 8,000-foot-high rolling dust cloud that moved through the city just before 6 p.m., dropping visibility to between zero and less than a quarter of a mile, Ziebell said.

North winds gusting as high as 74 mph had begun forming the dust cloud about 100 miles north of Lubbock around 4:30 p.m., he said.

"It went from light to dark, just like that," said Lubbock convenience store clerk Alma Williams. "I've never seen anything like it. It really scared me."

She said customers who went outside to watch the dirt cloud said they hadn't seen anything like it, either,

Lubbock city spokesman Jeff McKito said he was driving home from work when the dust hit. "It was pretty spectacular. Everything just turned black," he said.

He said cars pulled over and stopped, "but you don't want to get out of the car in this situation," he said.

See more photos, videos of dust storm on breakingnews.com

FAA controllers at Lubbock International Airport had to evacuate the tower and direct air traffic from a backup center on the tower's ground floor, McKito said. Trees toppled, roofs lost shingles and a small cargo plane at the airport was overturned, he said.

No injuries were reported from the dust cloud reminiscent of those shown in Dust Bowl photos from the late 1930s.

The dust cloud was yet another byproduct of the persistent drought in West Texas, Ziebell said.

The U.S. Drought Monitor map released Oct. 11 showed much of Texas, including the South Plains, were still experiencing "exceptional drought" — the most severe category.

In an Oct. 6 statement, the National Weather Service in Lubbock reported that there was a "high likelihood" that 2011 could be the driest on record across the South Plains.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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