The National Weather Service (NWS) in Hanford, CA, has just issued an emergency alert, warning of a dust storm that will affect the Indian Wells Valley, which includes portions of Kern County and the high desert. Owners of smart-phones in Bakersfield and the area may have been startled by a high-pitched alarm and subsequent 911 message that appeared on their phones around 12:35 p.m. today, alerting them to the NWS announcement.
The NWS alert predicted west winds of 30 to 40 mph with gusts to 70 mph. The strongest gusts will likely continue through the early evening. Areas affected include Ridgecrest, Inyokern, China Lake, Highways 178, 14, and 395.
According to the NWS, the high winds will make driving difficult and result in widespread blowing dust. Visibility will be reduced to near zero in some locations, severely hampering travel along roadways. Additionally, those with respiratory problems were warned to stay indoors until the storm is over.