Haboobs or Khamaseens? They’re actually very similar! In fact, they’re cousins in the wind world!
Have you ever heard a thunderstorm at night and gone outside the next morning to find the cars covered in dust? That’s because there was probably a haboob. Arizona is one of the few places in the United States that experiences these dangerous dust storms.
The word haboob is derived from the Arabic habb, which means wind or to blow. Most of the time a haboob develops alongside a thunderstorm and are strongest and most common during May, June and July.
Similar to the haboobs that we have in Arizona are Khamaseens, a dust storm that specifically occurs in Egypt. A Khamaseen also occurs between April and June but is named after the number of days that it occurs, fifty, or in Arabic khamsun.
Both storms occur in dry desert areas, are known to carry sand for miles and become walls of dust moving through the land at speeds of up to fifty miles an hour. The phenomena resembles tidal waves, billowing forward and concealing everything in its path, making it nearly impossible to see.
In a dry area where a lot of loose particles exist, the down and outward gusts from a thunderstorm stirs up dusts creating layer upon layer of thick dirt that turns into eventual walls. The strength of the dust storm depends on the thunderstorm and amount of loose particles on the ground or in the air as the storm travels.
Next time we have a haboob you can pretend your in Egypt experiencing a Khamaseen or you can visit Arizona Science Center for an Egyptian adventure with our new travelling exhibition Lost Egypt: Ancient Secrets, Modern Science, our new IMAX film Mummies: Secrets of the Pharaohs 3D and Stars of the Pharaohs in our Dorrance Planetarium.