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About Dust Storms
Haboob? What is a haboob?

Haboob Walls of dirt and debris, usually miles wide and thousands of feet high, are pushed across dry desert terrain by high winds, causing dust to engulf highways. Although usually brief, dust storms must be taken seriously because of blinding conditions on highways. Each year, nearly five people lose their lives, and many others are injured as result of such storms.

Known as "haboob," dust storms are most common between May and September in southern Arizona, although they have been known to occur at other times of the year. When traveling in these areas, you are encouraged to listen to weather reports on radio and television, especially during windy conditions. Be sure to check for current road conditions.

The National Weather Service Forecast Office says a haboob is a "violent dust or sandstorm." Every summer when the dew point exceeds 55 degrees for three consecutive days the monsoon season has arrived. Typically storms during the monsoon season start with heavy dust storms, a haboob.

A dust storm WATCH means the conditions for a dust storm are set in place.

A dust storm WARNING means the dust storm is about to occur.

In 2003, while driving in dust storms:

  • 4 people were killed
  • 99 people were injured
  • 119 crashes occurred

ALL TYPES of Motor vehicle crashes resulted in $3.2 billion in economic losses to Arizona

Statewide Economic Loss Due To Motor Vehicle Crashes (collective based on all causes and all conditions–not just Haboob)

Property Damage

  • Dust storms occur infrequently
  • Accident rate is high when they do occur

The 2003 Arizona Statewide Crash Statistics are in PDF format which will require Adobe Acrobat Reader to view.

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