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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 Sudanmarker), as well as across the Arabian Peninsula, throughout Kuwaitmarker, and in the most arid regions of Iraqmarker. African haboobs result from the northward summer shift of the inter-tropical front into North Africa, bringing moisture from the Gulf of Guineamarker. 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 United States, they are frequently observed in the deserts of Arizonamarker, including Yumamarker and Phoenixmarker. 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.

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'."


File:DustStormInSpearmanTexas19350414.jpg|Dust Bowl era haboob approaching Spearman, Texasmarker on 14 April 1935.File:Haboob2.jpg|Haboob blowing into Ahwatukee, Phoenix, Arizonamarker on 22 August 2003.File:Sandstorm.jpg|A massive haboob is close to enveloping Al Asad Airbasemarker, Iraqmarker, just before nightfall on 27 April 2005.File:Haboob, Taji, Iraq, 2006.JPG|A Haboob approaching Taji, Iraqmarker in 2006


References

  1. Sutton, L.J. 1925. Haboobs. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society 51:25-25.
  2. Idso, S.B., Ingram, R.S. and Pritchard, J.M. 1972. An American haboob. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 53(10):930-955.
  3. Idso, S.B. 1973. Haboobs in Arizona. Weather 28(4):154-155.
  4. Farquharson, J.S. 1937. Haboobs and instability in the Sudan. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society 63(271):393-414.
  5. Lawson, T.J. 1971. Haboob structure at Khartoum. Weather 26(3):105-112.
  6. Membery, D.A. 1985. A gravity-wave haboob? Weather 40(7):214-221.


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