What Is a Haboob?

A haboob is a wall of dust that can stand hundreds or even thousands of feet high. It is the result of high winds that blow down and agitate sand and dust, which causes the debris to blow up into a tall stacked wall. An average time span of a haboob generally ranges from 10 to 30 minutes. Haboobs typically occur in dry areas, particularly the Middle East, the Sahara, North Africa and the US state of Arizona, where there are large amounts of sand and high temperatures. These dust walls can be dangerous if they are tall enough to cause issues with visibility, particularly if it affects ground and air transportation.

More about dust storms:

  • The word "haboob" comes from habb, which is an Arab word meaning "blow" or "wind."

  • Phoenix, the capital of Arizona, experiences an average of one to three dust storms each year. From 2003 to 2013, more than 100 dust storms were reported in the state.

  • According to Greek legend, the army of Persian ruler Cambyses II was buried by a dust storm during the sixth century B.C. after the 50,000-man army conquered Egypt.
More Info: noaa.gov

Discussion Comments


@fBoyle-- Is it true that the dust from a haboob can get through closed windows and will cover everything with dust?


@alisha-- Did you guys have trouble breathing when you were there?

I was once caught in a haboob in Arizona as well. I ended up pulling over and staying somewhere until it passed. It was so difficult to breathe! I seriously would have worn a face mask if I had found one.

I've seen mild sand storms before, but a haboob is definitely the worst I've seen. It's an unbelievably huge cloud of dust.


There was a haboob when we took a trip to see relatives in Phoenix last year. We were driving, so everyone warned us about visibility issues. Apparently, a lot of car accidents happen when there is a haboob, cars usually slam into each other because they can't see far ahead.

Thankfully, we didn't have any problems. But we're definitely going to check the weather forecast in Phoenix before we plan another trip there.

Post your comments
Forgot password?