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Friday, July 27, 2012

Phoenix Haboob: Enormous dust storm 2,000 feet tall covers Phoenix cutting power to 9,000 homes

More familiar to the desert of Saharan Africa, the first massive dust cloud of the year has engulfed the city of Phoenix cutting off power to 9,000 homes and closing the international airport for 20 minutes.

Known as a haboob, which is Arabic for 'strong wind', the storm's yellowy grey dust cloud was traveling at 35 mph, was around 2,000 feet tall and almost 100km wide.

Caused by Arizona's monsoon season which begins in early June and runs through till the end of September, haboob's only occur in Africa, the Middle East, Australia and Phoenix, Arizona.

Known as the granddaddy of dust storms, the haboob is a rare event and is caused by loose dust being blown upwards in the absence of rain and collecting skywards where it is then propelled by another more distant thunderstorm brewing behind it.

Despite some of the 1.5 million residents of Phoenix objecting to the term haboob being used, meteorologists in the city confirmed that they have been using the Arabic word to describe the massive dust storms for over 30 years. Read More