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Are Haboobs normal?

Are Haboobs normal? A Haboob is a meteorological phenomena that occurs during the monsoon season across the southwestern United States. They are characterized by a wall of blowing dust and dirt that typically form from a strong shower or thunderstorm.

Similar to a dust storm, Haboobs can cause a rapid drop in visibility in a matter of a few minutes or even less. The word “Haboob” is an Arabic term used to describe intense dust storms that occur regularly throughout the Sahara Dessert and other regions. Haboobs can grow to be up to around 10,000 feet high. They typically only last about 10-30 minutes. Stronger Haboobs can last up to a few hours and travel over 100 miles. They can be quite dangerous if motorists and anyone outside gets caught in one.

In the United States, Haboobs are most common during the summer months of July and August during the Southwest monsoon season. Dry weather creates an environment for monsoon thunderstorms to stir up dust, sand and other tiny particles. Arizona, New Mexico and western Texas are the most common U.S. areas to experience such these intense dust storms. Cities like Phoenix, Arizona usually have 1-3 haboobs a year. In Arizona, the National Climate Data Center has recorded more than 100 dust storms over a 10-year period. In this MYD Global episode, we speak with Nancy Selover, Arizona State Climatologist about what Haboobs are, how they form, and how they impact communities that experience them.

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