In the Phoenix area there is a monsoon season that stretches between June and September during the summer months. This is when the desert in this area gets its largest amount of rainfall. Some of these monsoon storms can be violent with an abundance of thunder and lightning along with flash floods.
As well as rain storms the monsoons also bring along dust storms or ‘haboobs’ (their Arabic name). These types of storms can be very dramatic as great walls of dust can be seen. They are created by high winds from collapsing thunderstorms. When this happens cold wind rushes down at an incredibly fast rate picking up dust and debris, which is then blown upwards into the air.
When this happens it can very quickly get dark – so dark that the sun is blocked out and it’s almost impossible to see. This can make it very hazardous – especially for drivers.
Haboobs can be 100 miles wide and have heights in the range of 1500-3000 feet. The largest one recorded was in excess of 5000 feet tall and stretched across the entire metropolitan Phoenix area.
What do you do if you are caught in a haboob? If you are outdoors seek shelter immediately. There may be debris and rocks flying through the air that can injure you. If you are driving, pull over to the right, take your foot of the brakes and turn your engine and lights off. Wait until the storm passes and visibility returns. Once it clears the dust can remain in the atmosphere for days which can affect people with breathing issues.
Phoenix Haboob Videos