Midwest Dust Storm Clouds Tennessee Valley Skies

Friday, October 19, 2012

A fierce dust storm that caused pileups on the interstate in Oklahoma on Thursday clouded skies across the Tennessee Valley on Friday.

Kathy Robertson of the Air Pollution Control Bureau said, "We started getting calls about 10 o'clock this morning. By 12 or 12:30 when people were getting out for lunch, our phones were ringing off the hooks."

She said at first it was thought to be a woods fire, "but we didn't smell smoke and the haze was a different color."

Ms. Robertson said she eventually found reports of the dust storm that hit the Midwest and knew that it had arrived here.

It started as a beautiful clear day, but around mid-morning it began to get difficult to see Lookout Mountain or Missionary Ridge from downtown.

Ms. Robertson said it was the same situation in places like Fort Payne, Dalton and Cleveland. "I got a call saying it was even worse in Knoxville."

However, she said local air quality readings remained good. She said the dust should not be a health factor except for those who are sensitive to dust.

She said as the day wore on and the wind picked up some the dust appeared to slowly be dissipating. She said air quality readings improved later in the day.

Ms. Robertson said she expects the dust storm will have passed by Saturday.


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