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What Damage Can an Arizona Haboob Cause?

An Arizona dust storm, known as a haboob, is a frequent summer occurrence in the east valley. Once you experience one up close and personal, you soon won't forget it. Haboobs are impressive in both size and power.

Understand the hazards of haboobs and prepare both your family and your property for monsoon season.

What is an Arizona Haboob?

According to the American Meteorological Society, the word haboob comes from the Arabic root habb, meaning 'to blow'. Haboobs are common to the dry desert regions from the Middle East, to the Sahara Desert, to our own Sonoran Desert.

Haboobs bring winds of up to 50+ miles per hour. This wind fills with sand, dirt, and debris, which severely limits visibility on the roads, covers everything in a layer of dust, and creates respiratory health issues.

Another danger lurking in thunderstorms accompanying dust storms is the intense, unpredictable, and damaging winds of microbursts.

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What Causes Dust Storms in Arizona?

Massive walls of moving dust occur when cooler air in a thunderstorm rushes downwards, pushing hot air and dry desert sand rapidly away from the storm’s center, and upwards into the atmosphere.

How Long Do Haboobs Last?

Dust storms can last a few minutes to a few hours depending on the atmospheric conditions. One of the biggest haboobs ever recorded in Arizona happened on July 5, 2011.

The wall of dust named 'The Storm that Swallowed Phoenix' by the media reached a height of one mile into the air and stretched over 100 miles across the Arizona desert surrounding Phoenix.

What Should You Do in a Haboob Storm?

Since haboobs are fast moving walls of wind and dust, you may not have much time to react. As soon as they envelop you, visibility drops to near zero.

When a haboob is approaching, follow these safety tips:

Take Shelter

  • Go into a house or building to avoid being hit by flying objects.
  • If you are in a vehicle, stay inside with the windows rolled up.

Avoid Travel

  • Shelter in place. Haboobs usually last less than an hour.
  • Unless it's urgent, stay where you are until the storm passes.

Are You Driving? Pull Over!

  • Limited visibility makes driving during a dust storm dangerous.
  • Pull off the roadway, turn off your lights, and remove your foot from the brake. Wait until visibility improves before continuing on your way.
  • ADOT has a great resource every driver should read before monsoon season: Pull Aside, Stay Alive.

Avoid Breathing in the Dust

  • Arizona dust can be dangerous to your health. It contains spores that cause Valley Fever and triggers allergy and asthma attacks.
  • Use a shirt or bandana to cover your nose and mouth to filter dust and dirt.

Plan Ahead

  • Monitor weather reports and plan the best travel routes during monsoon season.
  • Sign up for the Maricopa County Emergency Alert System to receive notifications of weather emergencies in your area.
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How to Protect Your Property During a Haboob

Wind and dust associated with haboobs cause property damage. And so can the heavy rain and lightning, usually right behind the dust storm.

There are things you can do to secure your property and prepare for high winds, both before monsoon season begins, and when a haboob is heading your way.

Stop the Dust!

  • Keep all windows and doors closed until well after the dust storm passes.
  • Turn off your air conditioner for the duration of the haboob.

Avoid Flying Objects!

  • Secure items to keep them from blowing around your property during storms.
  • Securely stake down trampolines, pergolas, and shade structures.
  • Bring in patio furniture, umbrellas, and pool toys.

Care for Your Trees!

Ready to Help You With 24/7 Emergency Service

Sometimes, no matter how well we plan, monsoon storm damage happens. Call ATH immediately if you experience haboob, microburst, flooding, or other monsoon home damage. Our experts will secure your property to prevent further water damage and restore it to its original condition as quickly as possible.

Be sure to call us first, before you file your insurance claim. Sometimes repair costs are lower than you think, and we can do them without involving your insurance company. When insurance claims are necessary, we help you file them and offer direct billing plus deductible assistance.

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Our service area includes: Ahwatukee, Apache Junction, Chandler, Gilbert, Glendale, Mesa, Paradise Valley, San Tan Valley, Scottsdale, Surprise and Tempe.