Every Dust Storm Isn’t a Haboob, but Every Haboob Is a Dust Storm
This has been a hot topic of discussion, and you could even say it has stirred up the dust. A few months ago, at the end of May, a cloud of dust blew through Lubbock, Texas. We posted a video, with the caption “Watch as this haboob comes rolling through the Lubbock International Airport,” and the feud began. Is it called a dust storm, or a Haboob?
Is a wall of dust in the southwest called a dust storm, or Haboob?
— WeatherNation (@WeatherNation) August 10, 2016
Comments such as, “this is not a Haboob” and, “IT IS A DUST STORM. Haboob is what it is called in the middle east countries” were posted. But who is right?
The dictionary definitions of the words are very similar:
Haboob: “A violent and oppressive wind blowing in summer, especially in Sudan, bringing sand from the desert.”
Sandstorm: “A windstorm especially in a desert, that blows along great clouds of sand.”
Dust storm: “A storm of strong winds and dust-filled air over an extensive area during a period of drought over normally arable land.”
The difference between a sand storm, and haboob all comes down to the area covered. A Haboob is localized, and is caused by strong thunderstorm winds, which can lift dust as high as 5,000 feet. A dust storm covers a much larger area, and blows across the lowest few feet of the landscape. Calling sand storms in the southwest, Haboobs, is nothing new. Arizona dust storms were called Haboobs as far back as the October 1972 issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society
The word “Haboob” is actually derived from the Arabic word habb, meaning “wind.” English words like, cotton, alcohol and algebra are also derived from the Arabic language. We hope that this clears the air so the dust can settle on the subject.