No, Phoenix isn’t under nuclear attack, but it certainly looks like it in this photo by Arizona-based journalist Bruce Haffner, a helicopter pilot who specializes in aerial photos and video. The foreboding image, shared by Quartz, is a particularly photogenic example of a microburst, a sudden wind feature that occurs during thunderstorms. 


Spectacular as they might look from afar, microbursts can be incredibly damaging—destroying roofs, uprooting trees, and more in a matter of seconds. They’re particularly dangerous for planes, forcing an aircraft downward with such strength that it can lead to crashes and fatalities. They can also cause propeller planes to spontaneously take off

You can see the Phoenix storm in action in this video shot from the city's airport: 

There was a flash flood warning during the storm, which knocked out power, damaged apartments, and (understandably) grounded planes. 

[h/t Quartz]

Banner image by Bruce Haffner via Twitter

Know of something you think we should cover? Email us at tips@mentalfloss.com.