Weather "Bucket List": Top Things to See Before You Die

By: Jon Erdman | TWC
Published: January 22, 2013

#8:  Haboob:  Desert Southwest

The sky turned orange in Scottsdale, Ariz. during the Haboob. iWitness/Mikelp82

My favorite weather video we receive each summer is from the Desert Southwest.

Some thunderstorms, particularly in the western U.S., produce very little rain.  Precipitation falling into a very dry low-level air mass evaporates, chilling the air and causing it become more negatively buoyant, crashing to the ground and spreading laterally, like spilled milk.  

When this happens in the desert, huge clouds of dust can be kicked up, leading to an advancing brown cloud of dust known, or "haboob."  This term originates from the Arabic word for wind:  habb.  

To be sure, these dust storms are dangerous.  Suddenly-reduced visibility can lead to chain-reaction traffic accidents, sometimes with deadly results.  The choking dust can irritate your respiratory system, not to mention leave grit in your teeth.  

I think this bucket list item for me involves two things:  1) Fly in a helicopter well ahead of the haboob and 2) set up a timelapse on the ground of the haboob's passage.  

From dry and dusty to flooding of a historically flood-prone iconic city, let's check out #7 on the list.  

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