Huge ‘haboob’ dust storm blasts into Phoenix, Arizona

Scott Sutherland

A massive dust storm known as a haboob swept into Phoenix, Arizona on Monday, and it was caught on video by a local tv news station.

Haboobs form in particularly dry parts of the world, and they are often seen in northern Africa, the Middle East, Australia and the United States. They usually happen due to downbursts from strong thunderstorms, which send powerful winds down to the ground and then spreading outward from the storm. These winds can level trees and hydro poles, and cause damage to buildings roughly equivalent to a weak tornado. When this happens in a desert, the winds pick up fine dust and sand as they spread out, creating a wall of dust ahead of the storm as it moves.

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The particular storm that kicked off this haboob caused damage and flooding in the Phoenix area, apparently leaving close to 14,000 people without power. These storms are fairly common during Arizona's monsoon season (June through September), when the westerly winds that keep the area dry switch to southeasterly, bringing in moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and Gulf of California.

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