A blanket of dirt, dust and sand quickly engulfed the valley, and in a matter of seconds the sky was completely dark.
"It was all nice and good and then a huge dust storm came through," said Jack McGrath, who was caught off guard by the storm at the Palm Desert Aquatic Center.
The wind turned the normally tranquil water choppy and reduced visibility to almost nothing.
"It hurts because the sand is getting in your eyes and it's hard to see," McGrath said.
To the west, the wind was destructive.
The sandstorm moved through Palm Springs with so much power it actually uprooted a tree, smashed a pick-up truck and sent one man to the hospital.
"Instantly in one second, I mean you just heard a crackle noise," recounted Don White, who was standing outside the car with his son when the tree snapped.
"It just hit him dead in the back, I mean it just knocked him flat to the ground," White said.
Paramedics rushed the man to Desert Regional Medical Center. A fire official said he sustained minor injuries.
The city's emergency crews came to remove the tree, which White says was too old and brittle to be left standing.
"This should not have fallen over it was because it was so dry. It was dead," White said.