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The Mysterious Haboobs of Arizona

Updated on July 30, 2012
A haboob falling on Phoenix, AZ.
A haboob falling on Phoenix, AZ.

The weather is becoming more extreme. The worse drought in the Midwest in 50 years, the Mississippi River dropping several feet to its lowest in many years and monstrous haboob storms hitting Phoenix, Arizona.

The haboob, common in the Middle East, is a more rare phenomena in American deserts. When they do occur, they truly look menacing and doomsday-like as a huge mountain of sand moves across the desert floor engulfing everything. When a thunderstorm collapses and releases precipitation, the wind directions reverse, gusting outward from the storm. As this downpour reaches the ground, it blows loose sand up from the desert floor creating a wall of sediment that precedes the storm cloud. This wall of sand can be up to 62 miles wide and several miles high. The strongest haboob winds travel at 20 to 60 mph.

Phoenix, Arizona has been recently hit by several of these in the past few weeks, creating havoc and panic as the monster storms move their storm of sand. They are incredible sites and residents note that once the haboob has engulfed an area, daylight turns to night. Movement is not possible during a haboob.

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