Midwest storm blows dust through area
By Deborah Ince | Daily Times Correspondent
A dust storm traveling from southwest Oklahoma hit the East Tennessee area early Friday afternoon and was taking a northeasterly path through the region.
Andrew Pritchett, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Morristown, said the dust storm is a low pressure system that has spanned across several states.
“There was a low pressure system that started over the Great Lakes that has now deposited in East Tennessee,” Pritchett said. “We can see the plume on the satellite ... It’s pretty large in the atmosphere.”
Pritchett said the storm stretches back into Louisiana, east Texas, Mississippi and northwest Alabama and is taking a northeasterly path through East Tennessee. He emphasized that the dust mass is not a point storm similar to a thunderstorm, but rather a low pressure system.
As far as health and environmental concerns, Prtichett said there is no cause for alarm.
“I don’t think it will pose any harm,” Pritchett said. “I’m sure for some sensitive groups, the dust could be a little bit of a hazard, but as far as real health concerns, it doesn’t look like it’s so bad that you can’t be outside without wearing a mask.”
He believes the storm will not last much longer, and was expected to die down after sunset Friday.
“What I suspect will happen, once we start to stabilize the atmosphere after sunset, the dust will die down and fall back down,” Pritchett said. “There might be a little bit of light coating of cars and trees.”