Guess What Blew In The Other Day?

dust storms

A couple of days ago, I was busy cooking dinner when I got a call from my husband who was on his way home from work.  He said that there was a haboob on the way.

Okay, some of you may be wondering what the heck a ‘haboob’ is.  Well, the word ‘haboob’ is an Arabic word that describes a dust or sand storm.  Here in the Phoenix area, we don’t have sand, so our haboobs are made up of dust.

Now dust storms aren’t too unusual during our summer monsoon season in the Southwest, but the one that was coming, according to my husband was monstrous.  So, I decided it would be a good opportunity to blog about it, so I went outside with my son, Kai, to watch its approach and take pictures to share with you.

At first, it doesn’t look like much, but as you progress down through the pictures, you can see the progression of the haboob.

You can just see the dust cloud in the distance behind the homes

You can just see the dust cloud in the distance behind the homes.

dust storms
dust storms

Okay, at this point, my camera battery died.  So, I went inside to get our other camera only to find that its battery was also dead.  I couldn’t believe it…..this was a once in a lifetime weather experience and I had no camera!

But, then my husband arrived home from work and rescued me by taking pictures with his iPhone just as the storm was hitting.

And then it was dark….


 You can barely see Kai through the blowing dust….


At this point, we went inside and I actually had grit in my teeth….I won’t mention what my hair looked like 😉

The haboob was 3,000 ft. high and more then 30 miles wide.  It brought winds of 69 mph, some of which broke off some branches of my Mexican Bird-of-Paradise tree.

Just over at Double S Farms, my sister got photos of the storm approaching their house as well.


I am a total weather geek and I was thrilled to have witnessed a dust storm of this size.

Now, I just have to sweep the dust off my patio and wash the dust off of my plants with the hose 🙂

Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a author, horticulturist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."
27 replies
  1. Laura
    Laura says:

    Great photos!

    I didn't even know it was coming. It hit like — well, like a haboob! It was really something. Luckily I didn't have any damage here.

  2. FlowerLady
    FlowerLady says:

    Oh thank you for these pics. I'd heard about it on the weather page and saw one picture, but seeing if from a real person's perspective makes it more exciting. I'm glad you didn't have a lot of damage. Dust can be swept and watered away.

    Hugs ~ FlowerLady

  3. Marguerite
    Marguerite says:

    Those photos are outrageous. I can't believe you were outside watching. That thing looks like a dry version of a hurricane crossed with a tornado. I would have been huddled in the basement scared out of my wits.

  4. Diana Waite
    Diana Waite says:

    those are some great pictures! least you got a heads' up we didn't know what was going on, one minute it's daylight outside the next DARK< WINDY< and DUSTY!

  5. biobabbler
    biobabbler says:

    Oh, MY, that is THRILLING!! What a COOL MOM you are!! My dad would take us out in the car and drive around during the most insane rain storms. OR drive us to the airport to watch a crazy lightning storm. Awesome. =)

    This is such a treat. Heard about it on the radio but, you know, it's not like THAT (your pics). I will SO be tweeting this!!!

    p.s. what an amazing, positive attitude you have. delightful! I LOVE weather wackiness. Tornado warnings in the midwest? Woo-hoo!

  6. Lona
    Lona says:

    Hi Noelle. I saw this on the news and thought it was amazing. I just couldn't believe the pictures of it.I wondered how often this happened. The darkness must be what some people experience when volcano ash falls. Amazing shots.

  7. Bernie
    Bernie says:

    Wow, that really was something! It was huge. Your photos were just great. Isn't it always the way … when you need your camera, the batteries give out!

  8. jeansgarden
    jeansgarden says:

    Noelle, I saw film footage of this on the evening news, but your photos give a good sense of its immensity. Let's hope this is a one-off and not a new normal. -Jean

  9. Pranab
    Pranab says:

    Incredible pics! 🙂 I have not seen anything like this! I do not envy the clean up job on your hands now though…

  10. tracy
    tracy says:

    That looks like something out of the stories that my Grandma used to tell me about the storms she used to see when she was a little girl living in the Dust Bowl in Oklahoma during the Great Depression.

  11. Margarethe
    Margarethe says:

    I was driving from CA to Tucson and hit that storm in Eloy, couldn't take photos because I didn't want to pull out and stop – all drivers were a little on edge – but it was very impressive

  12. Msrobin
    Msrobin says:

    Oh my, I think I would have thought the world was coming to an end if I saw that coming at me. How long does it last, and what causes it? Frightening!

  13. Andy
    Andy says:

    I'm also a weather geek. I've experience a lot of weather, but never a HABOOB. Love that word, although one of the weathermen said people called the station complaining he was using a MADE UP word on the air! Glad I saw the pictures, but glad I missed the storm. Here in Oro Valley, we only had a sprinkle.

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