Haboob Dust And Sand Storms - Unique Weather Phenomena

A Haboob descends upon Phoenix, Arizona, United States.
A Haboob descends upon Phoenix, Arizona, United States.

5. Description

Haboobs usually occur in the arid regions and are carried by the atmospheric gravity currents known as the weather fronts. The areas of occurrence are the Sahara Desert and typically the Sudan area from where it rises and is also named here, then the Arabian Peninsula, Iraq and Kuwait. Haboob winds which are found in the Arabian countries and North America are created with the help of thunderstorms, whereas the African Haboobs are caused by the northward summer shift, which brings moisture from the Gulf of Guinea. In Australian continent, the Haboob is caused by the cold fronts. It is seen that the winds move in the opposite direction of the storm and when it collapses, it releases precipitation, and it creates a wall of sediment, which precedes the storm cloud.

4. Areas Most Vulnerable

Haboobs are most often witnessed in seven countries in the Middle East Region. They are also known as the violent winds and the areas in which they occur are Syria, parts of Iraq, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Cyprus and Israel. The Haboob witnessed in these areas caused death and breathing problems amongst the people. It caused disturbances for the transportation and also the dangerous quality of the air. The other regions which are mostly vulnerable to this kind of storm are situated in the United States of America in the Arizona desert, which includes the cities of Phoenix and Yuma, Texas, New Mexico, Albuquerque and the eastern California.

3. Reason for Occurrence

Haboobs are caused by a microburst or downburst in which the air is forced downward and is seen to be pushed in the forward direction by the thunderstorm cell. It travels across the terrain and carries dust and debris along with it. These storms occur in the hot and dry conditions and are prevalent across the Middle East in the summer region. Haboobs need the sand and dust particles and the sustainable wind which can move those particles. It is even reported that the poor farming practices are behind the massive dust storms and one of them occurred in the 1930s known as Dust Bowl in which many people became homeless.

2. Notable Haboob Events

One of the most notable recent Haboob events occurred on August 25th in 2015, which hit the U.S. state of Arizona as the city of Phoenix experienced strong winds and heavy rainfall. It was so heavy that the sunlight was blocked, and many of the areas were in complete darkness. The dust storm was so fierce that it threw the particles in the air which even knocked down the heavy vehicles as well.

1. Staying Safe

There are many safety measures which people can follow during Haboobs. These include the avoidance of driving into a dust storm, pulling off into the safest place out of the roadway, turning the vehicle lights on and using the emergency flashers to signal for help, reaching a shelter nearby, refraining from travel until the storm passes, buckling of seat belts inside of a car, shielding one's self from the flying objects, checking local severe weather reports and receiving notifications before venturing out in hot or dry conditions, and many more.


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