Sandstorm

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Is it possible for another big dust storm, like the one that led to the deaths of eight people on Sunday, to happen again in Utah? University of Utah professor Dr. Kevin Perry says it’s likely because dust storms are “becoming more common.”

In order for a big dust event to occur, Dr. Perry says the top layer of the ground, or crust, needs to be disturbed in some way in order for it to blow off when there are high winds. The crust becomes vulnerable with it’s disturbed by wildfires, farming, ATVs or long-time erosion.

Another big factor in dust pollution is dry lake beds. Perry has done extensive research on the Great Salt Lake and has found that about 750 square miles of dry lake bed have been exposed as the lake continues to shrink.

Perry says he is very concerned about the impact of dust on Utahns as the exceptional drought conditions persist. He says the deadly storm on Sunday is a very sad example of the threat.

This article is being provided as part of a content sharing agreement between The Herald Journal and Utah Public Radio. Go to upr.org for more state and local news.

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