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A dust storm is seen at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. / David Wallace, Arizona Republic

Thousands of utility customers in the Phoenix area were without power for up to several hours Friday evening following a massive dust storm, but a temporary "ground stop" for all incoming flights at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport has been lifted.

The Salt River Project tweeted that at least 8,800 customers were without power as of 8:08 p.m. local time, the bulk of whom are in the southeast Valley and Apache Junction area.

An outage map on SRP's website, www.srp.net, indicated less than 150 were still experiencing outages as of 9:15 p.m.

Up to 12,000 were originally without power.

As of 8:10 p.m., Sky Harbor lifted a temporary "ground stop" on inbound air traffic.

The temporary order issued at 6 p.m. meant that no new flights would be routed in from other airports until the ground stop was cleared. It affected departure times for flights heading to Phoenix and, because of connections here, delayed some outbound flights as well.

From about 5:30 p.m. until 12 News went off the air at 6:30, the Sky 12 helicopter was capturing video of a wall of dust beginning to cover parts of Casa Grande and moving north into the Valley.

Video from a news team just west of Casa Grande on Highway 84 showed extremely dark skies, rain and lightning.

Radar showed rain moving north behind the dust, said 12 News meteorologist Caribe Devine, as the dust storm continued to move north into the Valley. By 5:45, storms were active north and west of Casa Grande, with scattered rain storms and lightning south of the Valley, but little rainfall for the Phoenix area.

Visibility on the roads in the affected area was very low. Reports ranged from no visibility to 1/2 mile just south of the Valley before the storm hit the Phoenix area.

Officials advise anyone encountering blowing dust or blowing sand on the roadway to pull off the road as far as possible and put the vehicle in park. Turn the lights all the way off and keep your foot off the brake pedal.



Copyright 2014USAToday

Read the original story: Huge dust storm envelops Phoenix area

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