Photographer captures huge dust storm as it tears across the Arizona desert
When he’s not chasing rockets, photographer Jesse Watson is keeping an eye out for visually impressive weather anomalies. And they don’t get much more impressive than a haboob. A haboob is a type of particularly intense dust storm. They appear quite regularly in dryland areas throughout the world, but this was the largest Jesse had ever seen.
Some reports likened the phenomenon to “Armageddon”. I’ve yet to actually see Armageddon, so I wouldn’t know, but they’re probably not wrong. The mile-high wall of dust swept through Arizona, engulfing Phoenix, limited visibility to almost zero, crippling traffic.
Haboobs result from the collapse of a storm system. As it collapses, it sends rain down and winds gusting outward. Dust particles caught in the wind travel as a large wall of turbulent wind filled with sand and dust.
Jesse says that this was the third haboob he’d seen this week. He checked his radar in the afternoon and saw that the storms were kicking up and heading in his direction. His girlfriend was in the process of cooking dinner when he ran in and said “let’s go shoot, there’s a haboob coming our way!”
They jumped in the truck, drove for about an hour and finally caught up with the massive wall of dust racing its way across the state towards them. Jesse shot with a pair of Nikon D810 DSLRs with 14-24mm f/2.8G ED and 24-70mm f/2.8G ED lenses. The resulting timelapse was 800 frames shot over 200 miles.
We’re sure glad they decided to put dinner on hold.
You can see more of Jesse’s work over on his Instagram, and it’s well worth a look.
John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.