July 6, 2011

Something Terrifying: The Dust Storm That Ate Phoenix on July 5th, 2011

Timelapse Sequence by Mike Olbinski

Posted by Vanderleun at July 6, 2011 8:28 AM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

So now it's officially a depression. We have a dust bowl.

Posted by: stuart at July 6, 2011 8:36 AM

Ha - so this explains why my car looked like it went for a mud bath this morning...

Posted by: Julie at July 6, 2011 10:07 AM

I grew up in central Arizona, but moved to Bellingham, Wa for a few years in the early 90's. One day, I was talking to my realtor, a native to the NW, and mentioned driving in a dust storm. She asked me what that was? I told her, and her response was, "Dirt blows??"

Posted by: Leslie at July 6, 2011 12:49 PM

My oldest lives on the southeast side of Phoenix, and is right in the middle of this mess.

Posted by: Guy S at July 6, 2011 4:49 PM

At the risk of sounding like a brainless oaf, I didn't know we had storms like that here in America.

That looks like something from the Sahara Desert.

Posted by: Mumblix Grumph at July 6, 2011 6:04 PM

There are two seasons in Phoenix - hot and dry then hotter and drier. In between you have a couple of weeks in summer and a couple of weeks in winter when all hell breaks loose. We're used to it.

Posted by: Roy Lofquist at July 6, 2011 6:44 PM

Herr Grumph,

We do indeed have storms like this, and according to a Phoenix friend this happens every year(!).

One story that's not getting much play is that T. Boone Pickens, friend of the working man, has bought up vast tracts of west Texas to perpetrate a wind-farm scam, financed of course by the "stimulus" - or in other words that's where the entirety of its income originates.

His little plot sits atop the Oglalla aquifer, which extends from there to Nebraska. Western water rights being what they are, he owns all of it he can pump, which he's busily doing in a scheme to sell the water to cities like Dallas/Ft. Worth. His neighbors, largely agriculturalists, are going bust from no irrigation, and reports are that much of that area looks just like the dust bowl did in the '30s.

The Joads will be on the road again soon.

Posted by: Rob De Witt at July 6, 2011 7:01 PM

I had never heard of the term "haboob" before. Anyone know its origin?

My wife grew up in the Coachella Valley (south and east of Palm Springs). The wind storms there can get pretty bad. Some years they have been known to sandblast the paint off of cars. One year they even blew a railroad car over onto its side. The auto body shops get a lot of work every few years after one of these storms, replacing pitted windshields and windows.

Posted by: Grizzly at July 6, 2011 7:48 PM

Haboob is Arabic, and is just the name of that particular type of dust storm. Shamals and simooms are much more common.

'Nother benefit of spending time in Iraq -- you learn that dust storms come in different varieties...

Posted by: BillT at July 7, 2011 4:22 AM

...and this is the first time I've ever had occasion to make use of that to enlighten another.

It's a heady feeling.

Posted by: BillT at July 7, 2011 5:41 AM

A long time ago, I lived in South Africa for a few years (from ages 5 to 9), on the high veldt; the climate is much like SW USA and for many of the same reasons. I remember once being much put out by having to stay in during a dust storm that lasted three days.

Posted by: Fletcher Christian at July 7, 2011 7:19 AM

Why the hell are we importing an Arabic word when we have the perfectly adequate English "sandstorm"? It's bad enough that "jihad" and dhimmi have entered our vocabulary because of the seething mass of pathologies Islam has forced upon us; there's no need to provide any more space for the enemy's language than absolutely necessary.

Posted by: Dr. Mabuse at July 7, 2011 8:30 AM

There are sandstorms, and there are sandstorms -- the Arabic words have a precise meaning, whereas there is no single-word equivalent for any of the different types in English. If I'm going flying and the weather-guesser tells me conditions are right for a sandstorm, knowing whether it's a haboob or a simoom will determine my penetration strategy -- or whether I decide to delay my take off, or cancel the flight.

Besides, we have a rich tradition of borrowing appropriate words from other languages; hamburger and kebab, hurricane and monsoon, and a few thousand others -- the dictionary's full of them.

Posted by: BillT at July 7, 2011 9:46 AM

Thank you BillT for the enlightenment. I hope I never have to learn to identify and distinguish between a haboob, a simoom, and a shamal.

Posted by: Grizzly at July 8, 2011 3:55 PM

And I agree that English is quite the promiscuous language.

Now pardon me while I go get a clean finjan for my zarf. I haven't had enough coffee yet.

Posted by: Grizzly at July 8, 2011 4:01 PM

I got stuck out in this thing. Had to pull of a main street onto a residential side street and park under a streetlight. I've been through quite a few of them since I moved to Phoenix in 2005, but this was was the darkest, and dustiest. What sucked is we got very little rain out of the accompanying thunderstorm, so there was a lot of very fine dust hanging in the air for a day or two afterword.

Posted by: The Osprey at July 12, 2011 7:46 PM

Glad to read someone who was IN THIS comment.Very Curious about how long it lasted how much you could see and does it ruin air contioners or desert coolers? and car motors?
Scary to look at come in on film

Posted by: RIRISH at July 20, 2011 9:42 AM