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A haboob moves across the Llano Estacado toward Yellow House Canyon, near the residential community of Ransom Canyon, Texas (18 June 2009) Haboob Ransom Canyon Texas 2009.jpg
A haboob moves across the Llano Estacado toward Yellow House Canyon, near the residential community of Ransom Canyon, Texas (18 June 2009)

A haboob (Arabic : هَبوب, romanized: habūb, lit.  'blasting/drifting') is a type of intense dust storm carried on an atmospheric gravity current, also known as a weather front. Haboobs occur regularly in dry land area regions throughout the world.

The romanization of Arabic writes written and spoken Arabic in the Latin script in one of various systematic ways. Romanized Arabic is used for a number of different purposes, among them transcription of names and titles, cataloging Arabic language works, language education when used in lieu of or alongside the Arabic script, and representation of the language in scientific publications by linguists. These formal systems, which often make use of diacritics and non-standard Latin characters and are used in academic settings or for the benefit of non-speakers, contrast with informal means of written communication used by speakers such as the Latin-based Arabic chat alphabet.

Literal translation, direct translation, or word-for-word translation is a translation of a text done by translating each word separately, without looking at how the words are used together in a phrase or sentence.

Dust storm meteorological phenomenon common in arid and semi-arid regions

A dust storm, also called sandstorm, is a meteorological phenomenon common in arid and semi-arid regions. Dust storms arise when a gust front or other strong wind blows loose sand and dirt from a dry surface. Fine particles are transported by saltation and suspension, a process that moves soil from one place and deposits it in another.



During thunderstorm formation, winds move in a direction opposite to the storm's travel, and they 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. [1] [2] [3]

When this downdraft of cold air, or downburst, reaches the ground, it blows dry, loose silt and clay (collectively, dust) up from the desert, creating a wall of sediment that precedes the storm cloud. This wall of dust can be up to 100 km (62 mi) wide and several kilometers in elevation. At their strongest, haboob winds often travel at 35–100 km/h (22–62 mph), and they may approach with little or no warning. Often rain does not appear at ground level as it evaporates in the hot, dry air (a phenomenon known as virga). The evaporation cools the rushing air even further and accelerates it. Occasionally, when the rain does persist, it can contain a considerable quantity of dust. Severe cases are called mud storms. Eye and respiratory system protection is advisable for anyone who must be outside during a haboob. Moving to shelter is highly advised during a strong event.


A downburst is a strong ground-level wind system that emanates from a point source above and blows radially, that is, in straight lines in all directions from the point of contact at ground level. Often producing damaging winds, it may be confused with a tornado, where high-velocity winds circle a central area, and air moves inward and upward; by contrast, in a downburst, winds are directed downward and then outward from the surface landing point.

Virga clouds supplementary feature; precipitation that doesnt reach the ground

In meteorology, a virga is an observable streak or shaft of precipitation falling from a cloud that evaporates or sublimates before reaching the ground. A shaft of precipitation that does not evaporate before reaching the ground is a precipitation shaft. At high altitudes the precipitation falls mainly as ice crystals before melting and finally evaporating; this is often due to compressional heating, because the air pressure increases closer to the ground. It is very common in deserts and temperate climates. In North America, it is commonly seen in the Western United States and the Canadian Prairies. It is also very common in the Middle East, Australia, and North Africa.


Middle East

Haboobs have been observed in the Sahara desert (typically Sudan, where they were named and described), as well as across the Arabian Peninsula, throughout Kuwait, and in the most arid regions of Iraq. [4] Haboob winds in the Arabian Peninsula, Iraq, Kuwait are frequently created by the collapse of a thunderstorm.

Sudan Country in East Africa

Sudan or the Sudan, officially the Republic of the Sudan, is a country in Northeast Africa. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea to the east, Ethiopia to the southeast, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the southwest, Chad to the west, and Libya to the northwest. It has a population of 43 million people and occupies a total area of 1,886,068 square kilometres, making it the third-largest country in Africa. Sudan's predominant religion is Islam, and its official languages are Arabic and English. The capital is Khartoum, located at the confluence of the Blue and White Nile. Since 2011, Sudan is the scene of ongoing military conflict in its regions South Kordofan and the Blue Nile.

Arabian Peninsula the largest peninsula in the world

The Arabian Peninsula, or simply Arabia, is a peninsula of Western Asia situated northeast of Africa on the Arabian plate. From a geographical perspective, it is considered a subcontinent of Asia.

Kuwait Country in Western Asia

Kuwait, officially the State of Kuwait, is a country in Western Asia. Situated in the northern edge of Eastern Arabia at the tip of the Persian Gulf, it shares borders with Iraq and Saudi Arabia. As of 2016, Kuwait has a population of 4.5 million people: 1.3 million are Kuwaitis and 3.2 million are expatriates. Expatriates account for 70% of the population.

North Africa

African haboobs result from the northward summer shift of the inter-tropical front into North Africa, bringing moisture from the Gulf of Guinea.

North Africa Northernmost region of Africa

North Africa is a region encompassing the northern portion of the African continent. There is no singularly accepted scope for the region, and it is sometimes defined as stretching from the Atlantic shores of Mauritania in the west, to Egypt's Suez Canal and the Red Sea in the east. Others have limited it to the countries of Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia, a region that was known by the French during colonial times as "Afrique du Nord" and is known by Arabs as the Maghreb. The most commonly accepted definition includes Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, and Sudan, the 6 countries that shape the top North of the African continent. Meanwhile, "North Africa", particularly when used in the term North Africa and the Middle East, often refers only to the countries of the Maghreb and Libya. Egypt, being also part of the Middle East, is often considered separately, due to being both North African and Middle Eastern at the same time.

Gulf of Guinea The northeasternmost part of the tropical Atlantic Ocean between Cape Lopez in Gabon, north and west to Cape Palmas in Liberia

The Gulf of Guinea is the northeasternmost part of the tropical Atlantic Ocean between Cape Lopez in Gabon, north and west to Cape Palmas in Liberia. The intersection of the Equator and Prime Meridian is in the gulf.


Haboobs in Australia may be frequently associated with cold fronts. The deserts of Central Australia, especially near Alice Springs, are particularly prone to haboobs, with sand and debris reaching several kilometers into the sky and leaving up to 30 centimetres (1 ft) of sand in the haboob's path.

Cold front Leading edge of a cooler mass of air

A cold front is the leading edge of a cooler mass of air, replacing at ground level a warmer mass of air, which lies within a fairly sharp surface trough of low pressure. It forms in the wake of an extratropical cyclone, at the leading edge of its cold air advection pattern, which is also known as the cyclone's dry conveyor belt circulation. Temperature differences across the boundary can exceed 30 °C (54 °F) from one side to the other. When enough moisture is present, rain can occur along the boundary. If there is significant instability along the boundary, a narrow line of thunderstorms can form along the frontal zone. If instability is less, a broad shield of rain can move in behind the front, which increases the temperature difference across the boundary. Cold fronts are stronger in the fall and spring transition seasons and weakest during the summer.

Central Australia Region in the Northern Territory, Australia

Central Australia, also known as the Alice Springs Region, is one of the five regions in the Northern Territory of Australia. The term Central Australia is used to describe an area centred on Alice Springs. It is sometimes referred to as Centralia; likewise the people of the area are sometimes called Centralians. The region is located in the southern part of the Northern Territory spanning from the west on the Western Australian Border to the east on the Queensland border.

Alice Springs Town in the Northern Territory, Australia

Alice Springs is the third-largest town in the Northern Territory of Australia. Known as Stuart until 31 August 1933, the name Alice Springs was given by surveyor William Whitfield Mills after Alice, Lady Todd, wife of the telegraph pioneer Sir Charles Todd. Now colloquially known as The Alice or simply Alice, the town is situated roughly in Australia's geographic centre. It is nearly equidistant from Adelaide and Darwin.

North America

As with haboobs in the Middle East, haboob occurrences in North America are often created by the collapse of a thunderstorm. This is a local or mesoscale event, and at times of extreme drought they can originate in agricultural regions. Some of the most famous dust storms of the Dust Bowl and similar conditions later were in fact synoptic scale events typically generated by a strong cold frontal passage, with 14 April 1935, 9–11 May 1934, 19 February 1954, and 11 November 1911 being particularly vivid examples.

The arid and semiarid regions of North America—in fact, any dry region—may experience haboobs. In North America, the most common terms for these events are either dust storm or sandstorm. In the U.S., they frequently occur in the deserts of Arizona, including around the cities of Yuma and Phoenix; [5] [6] in New Mexico, including Albuquerque; in eastern California, and in Texas. [7] They also sometimes occur in the Columbia Basin, of Eastern Washington, almost always leading to an impact with the city of Spokane. If the storms are strong enough, they can reach as far east as Post Falls and Moscow, in North Idaho.


Global dust storms on Mars have been compared to haboobs on Earth. [8]

See also

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Burns Day Storm 1990 January storm in Northwestern Europe

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Outflow boundary in atmospheric science, separating thunderstorm-cooled air from the surrounding air

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Ensemble forecasting

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Lemon technique

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