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Huge storms are ordinary summertime events:

Sometimes Dust Completely Blankets Mars

Mars global dust storm in 2001 Hubble image
Hubble Space Telescope recorded the biggest dust storm seen in several decades engulfing Mars in 2001. In June, left, storms were brewing in Hellas Basin (oval at 4 o'clock position on disk) and at the northern polar cap. In September, right, the storm obscured all surface features.   Click to enlarge image from NASA, James Bell (Cornell Univ.), Michael Wolff (Space Science Inst.), and Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
Huge dust storms are ordinary summertime events in the southern hemisphere of Mars.

They show up most summers when sunlight beating down on the Red Planet heats the ground, altering atmospheric circulation.

Typical dust storms are kicked up in one of the lowest areas on the Martian surface – the Hellas Basin. From there, they spread quickly across the Martian globe, covering one-quarter, one-third, sometimes even half or more of the entire planet surface.   Hellas Basin on topographic map

2001 storm. One such giant dust storm covered the whole planet in 2001. It was the most intense ever seen on the Red Planet, engulfing the entire planet for months.   see Hubble image at right »

The storm also was watched by NASA's 2001 Mars Odyssey spacecraft in orbit above the planet.   NASA: 2001 dust storm

2003 storm. A storm blew up in 2003 and expanded quickly as winds carried the dust into the thin atmosphere for several thousand miles, stretching a third of the way around the planet.

Astronomers who like to observe the scenery on Mars from afar found the 2003 dust storm obscuring many surface features.   NASA: 2003 dust storm

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