Is Haboob an acceptable meteorological term?
POSTED: Sunday, March 23, 2014 - 3:55pm
UPDATED: Sunday, March 23, 2014 - 6:46pm
El Paso, TX — Last week, the Panhandle region saw a massive dust storm forming and it wasn't the dust storm that got some Texans a bit riled. It was the meteorological term.
As I am starting to discover this amazing world of weather, there are some terms that are still a bit foreign to me, and Haboob is one of them.
It's a fun word to say, and to spell. But the meaning of the word is everything by fun.
Haboob is basically a dust storm or sand storm that will cause near-zero visibility in blowing dust and strong winds of 50+ mph.
And if you were wondering what origin this word is from, well it's not English.
It's actually an Arabic word and if you look it up in the meteorology dictionary you will find it defined as such:
A strong wind and sandstorm or dust storm in northern and central Sudan, especially around Khartoum, where the average number is about 24 a year.
The uproar is caused because of just that.
It's not an American word nor is it defined to be a weather event to takes place in America. This event is called a dust storm or sand storm, not a haboob. So why use it?
This logic was used in some parts of West Texas, where one TV station posted a warning last week saying residents in Lubbock should use precaution out on the roads if traveling due to a haboob forming.
As silly as it sounds many people were upset about it rather than focusing on the real problem.
Just so it's clear, using the word haboob is no different than using the word Tornado. The origin of this word is actually Spanish.
Haboobs are most frequent from May through September, especially in June, but they have occurred in every month except November.
And they will continue to form especially throughout the season since it has been pretty dry in certain parts of Texas.
The average duration for these sand storms is around three hours.
They are most severe in April and May when the soil is driest. They may approach from any direction, but most commonly from the north in winter and from the south, southeast, or east in summer.
In El Paso we have seen a couple of sand storms, and with this dry weather, we are sure to see many more.