Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Haboob I learn something new every day.

You maybe asking yourself what is a HABOOB and what does it have to do with Arizona? according to

A haboob (Arabic هبوب) is a type of intense sandstorm commonly observed in arid regions throughout the world. They have been observed in the Sahara desert (typically Sudan), as well as across the Arabian Peninsula, throughout Kuwait, and in the most arid regions of Iraq.[1] African haboobs result from the northward summer shift of the inter-tropical front into North Africa, bringing moisture from the Gulf of Guinea. Haboob winds in the Arabian Peninsula, Iraq and Kuwait are frequently created by the collapse of a thunderstorm. The arid and semiarid regions of North America – in fact any dryland region – may experience haboobs. In the USA, they are frequently observed in the deserts of Arizona, including Yuma and Phoenix[2][3], as well as New Mexico and Texas [4]. During thunderstorm formation, winds move in a direction opposite to the storm's travel, and they will move from all directions into the thunderstorm. When the storm collapses and begins to release precipitation, wind directions reverse, gusting outward from the storm and generally gusting the strongest in the direction of the storm's travel.[5][6][7]

When this downdraft, or "downburst", reaches the ground, dry, loose sand from the desert settings is essentially blown up, creating a wall of sediment preceding the storm cloud. This wall of sand can be up to 100 km (60 miles) wide and several kilometers in elevation. At their strongest, haboob winds can travel at 35-50 km/h (20-30 mph), and they may approach with little to no warning. Often rain is not seen at the ground level as it evaporates in the hot, dry air (a phenomenon known as virga), though on occasion when the rain does persist, the precipitation can contain a considerable quantity of dust (severe cases called "mud storms"). Eye and respiratory system protection are advisable for anyone who must be outside during a haboob -- moving to a place of shelter is highly desirable during a strong event.

Across North Africa and the Near East, there are many regional names for this unique sandstorm. The word haboob comes from the Arabic word هبوب "strong wind or 'phenomenon'."

Last night we decided to teach kids about recycling cans and that they could make money from it. As we were driving home we saw this huge wall cloud start to over take parts of the valley and it was like something from a movie. The sky turned so dark we couldn't even see the neighbors house across the street at the peak of the storm. Rumors have the winds at over 65 miles an hour and trees with 5 inch diameter were down in many areas. Our area of Chandler didn't see the down power lines and I saw only about 4 total trees down in the neighborhood so we were very lucky. Although there is fine sand all over the house and covering everything in the backyard. It was a very crazy night and they expect more sandstorms to come.

More Phoenix storms forecast after huge evening dust storm

More storms are forecast for Wednesday evening, following a massive dust storm that swept across the Phoenix area Tuesday night, leaving a path of dust, debris and damage in nearly every part of the Valley.

Wednesday evening's forecast includes a 20 percent chance for thunderstorms in the Valley and between a 20 percent and 25 percent chance for dust storms beginning between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m., according to the National Weather Service.

"No night is ever going to be exactly the same," National Weather Service meteorologist Craig Ellis said. "The odds of getting another (big dust storm) are not that great, but on the other hand, the conditions have not changed that much, so it's possible.

"It's possible we could get another dust storm tonight. As to how bad it could be, that's difficult to say."

The wall of dust rolled into the Valley starting just before 7:30 p.m. Tuesday,
Ellis said. The mile-high dust storm moved between speeds of 50 and 60 mph and appeared to be nearly 100 miles wide, according to the Weather Service's radar.

Winds in the Valley reached 50 mph with gusts approaching 60 mph, Ellis said. Visibility fluctuated between zero to a quarter of a mile during the storm's peak density.

"I've been (in Arizona) for nearly 33 years, and I've never seen as thick a coating of dust, on streets and cars, as this one," Ellis said. "I've never seen anything like it before."

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport was forced to shut down for nearly an hour, spokeswoman Julie Rodriguez said. All planes were grounded between 8 p.m. and 8:45 p.m., and some flights were diverted to Tucson and California for landing. At least two flights were canceled.

The storm was so powerful, it blew a heavy cloud of dust into the terminals, triggering fire alarms.

Phoenix Fire Department received more than 700 calls for service as the storm rolled through the city.

"We expect that," said Capt. Scott Walker, a spokesman for the Fire Department. "When storms come to the area ... we have procedures in place."

The storm also caused power failures in some areas. In Tempe, officers were directing traffic at intersections in blackout areas, police Lt. Scott Smith said. Significant outages were also reported in Apache Junction.

Salt River Project reported 9,400 customers across the Valley lost power during the peak of the storm.

Arizona Public Service reported that the entire town of Quartzsite lost power, affecting 2,000 people, and blackouts affected 6,000 customers in Buckeye.

Significant outages were also reported in Apache Junction, central and south Phoenix, and south Scottsdale. APS reported Wednesday morning that 600 customers in the far west Valley were still without power, but outages should be fixed by the end of the day.

A semitruck was blown over along Interstate 8 near milepost 169, six miles southwest of Casa Grande, Ellis said. Twenty power poles went down, and a tree fell on a police station near Sacaton in Pinal County.

The storm brought down live wires in Tempe, and one started a fire near Rural Road and Southern Avenue, Smith said. The blaze was quickly extinguished.

In Chandler, winds toppled nine trees at the intersection of Chandler and Arizona avenues. Police officers used chainsaws and a tow truck to clear the debris.

Although the cause of the storm's speed was yet to be determined, Weather Service officials said the storm's unusual density was caused by little rainfall in affected areas during the past several months.

A typical dust storm in Arizona might reach 1,000 feet and travel between 30 and 40 mph, Ellis said.

More dust storms are forecast for Wednesday afternoon, with a slight chance of thunderstorms in the evening.

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  1. Still sounds better than tornadoes, flood, etc.

  2. Well we do get flash flood, Straight Line Winds, Micro Burst and I have seen one tornado since moving here. OH and we got a little shake from the earthquake that hit Calimexico last year. But the only time anything like this happens is during Monsoon season and good thing it only last little under two months from July to August.