Date: Sun, 21.03.21 12:00
MODIS Pic of the Day 21 March 2021
Dust Mexico and Texas
Gusty springtime winds turned the skies yellow and beige in mid-March
2021 across northern Mexico, New Mexico, and west Texas. A strong
low-pressure system blowing along the Mexico-United States border
scattered dust in an unusually long-lasting storm.
Sustained winds of 35 to 45 miles (55 to 70 kilometers) per hour —with
gusts to 65 (100)—lofted abundant streams of dust from the Chihuahuan
Desert. The storm lasted nearly eight hours, reduced visibility to
below a half-mile in some places, and degraded air quality,
particularly in the El Paso-Jua'rez metropolitan area. The Moderate
Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on board NASA’s Terra
satellite acquired this true-color image of plumes of shifting sand
across New Mexico, western Texas, and Mexico on March 16, 2021.
The brightness of White Sands, New Mexico stands out in the north.
Moving due south, the city of El Paso, Texas sits on the Rio Grande—the
ribbon of green that serves as a border between western Texas and
Mexico after passing through the entire state of New Mexico. A swath of
shifting dust measuring more than 105 miles (170 km) wide and about 200
miles (322 km) from north to south is easily visible.
The Chihuahuan Desert has been experiencing drought conditions
recently, leaving the desert even drier than usual and primed for dust
storms. Even though the storm was quite expansive, it’s not the size
that makes this particular dust event notable—it’s the duration. Due to
the relatively slow passage of windy conditions, El Paso experienced
dusty weather basically for eight hours nonstop—more than twice as long
as the historical average for dust events in the city.
Strong winds can move heavier sand grains tens of miles near the
ground, while finer grains and dust particles can be carried hundreds
to thousands of miles. Just this week, particles from a March 13 dust
storm in northern Mexico and New Mexico mingled with the snow falling
in Colorado, hundreds of miles to the north.
Date Acquired: 3/16/2021
Resolutions: 1km (201.9 KB), 500m (566.3 KB), 250m (367.3
Bands Used: 1,4,3
Image Credit: MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC
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