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Photos Show Colossal Sandstorm Slamming US Base

Sandstorm

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(Image credit: U.S. Central Command.)

With only minutes warning, a massive sandstorm sucker punched an undisclosed military base in Southwest Asia.

The troops captured several photos, such as this one above, as the wall of sand roared over the base, covering everything in gritty sand particles.

Sandstorm

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(Image credit: United States Central Command.)

When the atmosphere grows unstable, strong winds can roar across the desert , vibrating the dry, loose sand. The sand particles then leap up and down, repeatedly striking the ground. This creates smaller and smaller sand particles that are picked up by the wind and carried in giant waves of sand.

Sandstorms can blow away entire dunes, creating walls of sand up to a mile high.

Sandstorm

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(Image credit: U.S. Central Command.)

The sandstorm was so thick that it blotted out the sun, turning a typically sunny March afternoon into darkness. The wave of sand coated buildings and sent troops scrambling for cover. Drivers made U-turns onto the wrong side of the road to avoid the wall of sand.

Sandstorm

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(Image credit: United States Central Command.)

The sand hit so quickly that service members had no chance to shut off air conditioners, which sucked in the sand like vacuums and sprayed the inside of buildings with a gritty coating of desert sludge.

Sandstorm

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(Image credit: United States Central Command.)

"I can still taste the sand in my mouth," U.S. Air Force Captain Heath Allen wrote in a U.S. Central Command blog post. "Dust never had such an overpowering odor."