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No, there aren’t more dust storms in Phoenix — just more pictures of them

(Twitter Photo/@Arizona_DPS)

PHOENIX — It might seem like there’s been a rise in the frequency of haboobs and dust storms in the Phoenix area, but it’s just a perception issue.

Arizona State University climatologist Randy Cerveny told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Bruce St. James and Pamela Hughes on Friday to blame it on media coverage.

“There are definitely more haboobs being photographed and being watched by helicoptors and being chased by storm chasers, and getting their pictures all over the papers and all over the TV,” he said.

Cerveny said to enjoy those images while you can because the number of dust storms and haboobs (giant walls of dust) will diminish as it gets deeper into the summer.

“What we have happen now is these storms are dying out,” he said. “They’ll put out the wind — not so much rain. The first part of the monsoon we see a lot more of these dust storms. That will decrease as we get into the rest of July and August.”

Cerveny said forecasters are expecting a rainier season than usual. And that’s a good thing, considering how dry it’s been.

“The next month they are saying should have above-normal precipitation,” he said. “And .. that’s going to make somewhat of a dent in the drought that we have.”

In the near future, the monsoons were expected to take a bit of a break in the Phoenix area before storm activity ramps back up over the weekend.

The chance of precipitation in the Valley was 10 percent Friday, the lowest it’s been all week, although scattered showers weren’t out of the question.

But it goes up to at least 20 percent through Tuesday, with Sunday having the highest chance for showers at 30 percent. Morning and afternoon rainfall is possible, according to the National Weather Service.

However, Cerveny said one thing you can count on is that weather forecasters won’t always get it right.

“The monsoon is one of the hardest things we have to forecast beacause it’s related to surface heating for the most part,” he said.

“Trying to figure out exactly where storms are going to take place and exactly how they’re going to move is incredibly difficult.”

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