May 31, 2016

Haboob, Sandstorm, Dirt Storm? The Answer’s Blowing in the Texas Wind

Lubbock, TX
USA
by
Bob Henson
,
Weather Underground
Intense thunderstorms located north of Lubbock at 6:15 pm CDT Sunday, May 29, 2016, pushed an outflow boundary (the faint line south of the storms) and associated haboob (not visible on radar image) toward the Lubbock area. Image: NWS, Lubbock
Intense thunderstorms located north of Lubbock at 6:15 pm CDT Sunday, May 29, 2016, pushed an outflow boundary (the faint line south of the storms) and associated haboob (not visible on radar image) toward the Lubbock area. Image: NWS, Lubbock

As the North American monsoon circulation pattern develops (typically in late May or early June), states in the American Southwest can experience massive dust storms known as, haboobs (from the Arabic verb هب "habb," which means "to blow"). Recent analyses suggest that climate change may lead to precipitation declines in the early monsoon season, and drier conditions in the Southwest that favor haboob formation.[1]

The temperature at the Lubbock NWS office dropped from 82°F at 7:03 pm CDT to 64°F at 7:10 pm CDT, with winds gusting to 56 mph and visibility down to 0.5 mile in rain and blowing dust.

Haboobs are distinct from ordinary blowing dust because of the thick dust shoveled upward—sometimes more than half a mile—by the relatively cool, dense air at the leading edge

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What’s kicked up the haboob storm?

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For one thing, intense, recurring drought over the last few years, coupled with record-warm, landscape-drying temperatures, could be making the region more prone to haboob formation at times, although this would be a difficult thing to quantify.