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Haboob facts for kids

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A picture of a haboob dust storm.

A haboob is a storm that forms in the downdrafts of a thunderstorm. The downdrafts are caused by air being pushed down onto the ground, similiar to a leaf blower. They can be seen in deserts like the Saharan and in places like Arizona.

A thunderstorm can make strong downdrafts, which is just wind that blows down towards the surface of the Earth. When the wind hits the Earth, it starts to move sideways and picks up dirt and dust. It makes a cloud of dust that is bad for people, animals and plants.


Haboob Ransom Canyon Texas 2009
A haboob moves across the Llano Estacado toward Yellow House Canyon, near the residential community of Ransom Canyon, Texas (18 June 2009)

Middle East

Haboobs have been observed in the Sahara desert (typically Sudan, where they were named and described), as well as across the Arabian Peninsula, throughout Kuwait, and in the most arid regions of Iraq. Haboob winds in the Arabian Peninsula, Iraq, Kuwait are frequently created by the collapse of a thunderstorm.

North Africa

African haboobs result from the northward summer shift of the inter-tropical front into North Africa, bringing moisture from the Gulf of Guinea.


Haboobs in Australia may be frequently associated with cold fronts. The deserts of Central Australia, especially near Alice Springs, are particularly prone to haboobs, with sand and debris reaching several kilometers into the sky and leaving up to 30 centimetres (1 ft) of sand in the haboob's path.

North America

As with haboobs in the Arabian Peninsula, Iraq and Kuwait, haboob occurrences in North America are often created by the collapse of a thunderstorm.

The arid and semiarid regions of North America—in fact, any dry region—may experience haboobs. In North America, the most common terms for these events are either dust storm or sandstorm. In the U.S., they frequently occur in the deserts of Arizona, including around the cities of Yuma and Phoenix; in New Mexico, including Albuquerque; in eastern California, and in Texas. They also sometimes occur in the Columbia Basin, of Eastern Washington, almost always leading to an impact with the city of Spokane. If the storms are strong enough, they can reach as far east as Post Falls and Moscow, in North Idaho.


Global dust storms on Mars have been compared to haboobs on Earth.


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