Phoenix Haboob: What Is The Massive Dust Storm That Struck Arizona? [VIDEO]

on August 27, 2013 5:27 PM EDT

haboob
A haboob struck Phoenix on Monday night, downing power lines but injuring no one. (Photo: Twitter: Fascinatingpics)

A haboob swept into Phoenix, Ariz., on Monday evening, downing power lines and knocking down trees with winds of over 60 mph. No injuries were reported as a result of the massive dust storm.

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So what is a haboob?

The primary thing to know about a haboob is that "haboob," which comes from the Arabic for "wind," is an enormously fun word to say. Haboobs are strong winds that only occur along the southern Sahara, the Middle East and Arizona. The summer wind sometimes combines with thunderstorms, and tends to last about three hours. Haboobs can form massive, tall walls of sand and dust. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, haboobs form when "air is forced down and pushed forward by the front of a traveling thunderstorm cell," dragging with it dust, sand and debris.

The Phoenix haboob was the second dust storm to hit the city in the last six weeks. The haboob appeared following a period of heavy rainfall, with swaths of Arizona under flash flood watch on Monday. Arizona is in the midst of monsoon season, a period beginning in June and ending in September. Monsoon season is the time when haboobs generally occur in Arizona.

NBC News created a roundup of some of the better social media pictures of the Phoenix haboob, and they've also posted a time-lapse of the dust storm.

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