A haboob is an intense dust storm that occurs during monsoon season. The term originated from an arabic term meaning wind.
When a thunderstorm produces a downdraft, dirt from the desert floor is swirled up to produce a haboob.
Haboobs are common in desert areas throughout arid regions such as Kuwait, Iraq and in parts of southwest United States including Texas, Arizona and New Mexico. On average, there are about three haboobs that occur in Phoenix every year.
These short-lived, but intense dust storms usually develop between July and August, during monsoon season.
Cold air from the downdraft of a thunderstorm can pull loose dirt up from the desert floor to produce a haboob. As Jim Andrews, AccuWeather.com expert senior meteorologist, explained, if the rain has already fallen from the storm, the dust is less likely to form into a haboob, because the rain compacts the dirt.
Not all thunderstorms have the key ingredient for producing a haboob, which is strong winds, Andrews said.
A watch may be issued to warn people in advance if a thunderstorm is capable of igniting a haboob, according to Andrews.
Haboobs can result in zero visibility, endangering motorists on roadways and compromising conditions for aviation.
"Haboobs come with blinding visibility. The dust gets everywhere," Andrews said.
Power outages can also be common with large dust storms due to strong winds.
Haboobs can also pose health risks for those with allergies or breathing problems because of the amount of dust in the air.
On average, about five people die every year from haboob-related deaths.
Story by AccuWeather.com Staff Writer Molly Cochran
Dangerous flash flooding is captured as an arroyo becomes filled with water in Carson Valley, Nevada.
The RealFeel Temperature uses an equation to determine how it actually feels outside.
Knowing what the different advisories, watches, and warnings mean will lead to more informed decision making when a winter storm threatens a particular area.
How can you determine if and when the ice is thick enough for safely going out on?
Seeking shelter in the event of a tornado could save your life, but is there really any safe place to hide?
Driving on a 90-degree angle away from the tornado is a good strategy to follow in order to distance yourself from the tornado.
Supercell thunderstorms have been responsible for major tornadoes that have demolished parts of the U.S.
After a cold, clear winter night without much wind, the ground and nearby tree branches may be covered by tiny, white ice crystals.
A major cause of post-snow flooding are ice jams in waterways.
How can there be a blizzard if it's not snowing outside? Justin Povick explains.
Richmond, VA (1942)
-1 degree F earliest ever below zero.
New York City (1959)
15" of snow.
N. California & Oregon (1964)
Great warm surge and torrential rains on deep snow cover; record floods followed.