Tags: phoenix | haboob | photos

Phoenix Haboob: Wall of Dirt Makes for Pretty Pictures (Photos)

By Clyde Hughes   |   Tuesday, 27 Aug 2013 02:55 PM

A huge dust storm, or "haboob," blanketed the Phoenix area Monday evening, pushing a large brown cloud of dust over the metro community. But for a big wall of dirt, it sure made for some amazing photos.

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The haboob wall cloud caused wind gusts of more than 60 miles per hour and a dust storm warning was issued as visibility in the area dropped below a quarter of a mile, reported The Weather Channel.

Haboobs only happen in Arizona, the Sahara desert, and parts of the Middle East because of dry conditions and large amounts of sand, weather officials told USA Today.

The storms can stop airline flights, knock out electrical lines and turn swimming pools into instant mud pits. Monday's haboob downed trees and power lines, flooded roadways and left nearly 14,000 customers without power, USA Today said.

Arizona dust storms were called haboobs as far back as the October 1972 issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society according to USA Today. The name comes from the Arabic word habb, meaning "wind." It has many spellings, including: bub, habub, haboub, hubbob, and hubbub, said USA Today.

Haboobs can last for more than an hour and travel up to 200 miles. The dust storms are created by microbursts, which are small scale areas underneath thunderstorms where cold air is pulled down and drops down out of the storm.

The thunderstorms of the monsoon season can trigger the dust storms, but Ken Waters of the National Weather Service told the Arizona Republic rain can also make it more difficult for wind to pick up dust.

"Early in the monsoon we do have microbursts, but they’re less likely to have heavy rain, like during this time of year, for instance,” Waters said. "That makes late June until the first of July more likely time to get dust storms. And those thunderstorms might not have very much rain ... so that’s why (dust storms) are more common in the beginning of the monsoon season versus the end."

The Arizona Republic wrote that dust storms can also cause allergies and worsen asthma and respiratory infections for anyone with pulmonary illnesses.

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