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Yesterday Katie Mack (an astrophysicist) tweeted this parallel between a dust storm on Mars and a storm shown in the movie "Mad Max Fury Road" (she says "Can’t help imagining that this is what that Mad Max: Fury Road scene would have looked like from above.").

This made me ask: is the movie-storm a realistic storm? If yes, under which conditions?

In particular, what caught my attention is the shape of the cross-section of the advancing storm, with dust protruding on the bottom and clouds protruding on the top at the same time. Could it happen?

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Fury Road storm seems like quite a realistic representation of a huge thunderstorm advancing over a desert. The gust front would lift the sand in the bottom ahead of the storm center. Winds inside the storm would diverge at a higher altitude causing the sand to fall ahead of the actual storm.

In reality thunderstorms do produce dust storms with their gust fronts, but there isn't as visible upper part as in the screenshot of the film. This is because the storm is moving so fast that the dust hasn't had time to get lifted up and blown forwards from above. Such storm should have very slow speed advancing on average and large updrafts lifting dust efficiently upwards. And perhaps the dust is very fine so that it acts like gas and gets easily advected.

The situation is similar to an actual cumulonimbus/thunderstorm where the top and the bottom of the cloud are pronounced. See illustration of a cumulonimbus here.

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