RITZVILLE, Wash.—High winds swept through Ritzville on Tuesday afternoon sparking a rare weather pheominon in the Inland Northwest. The storm triggered a Haboob and according to the National Oceanic and Atomspheric Administartion the weather phenomena with an unusual name is no joke.
CAUGHT ON CAMERA: Haboob sweeps over Harrington
“In fact, haboobs (pronounced “huh-boobs”) are not unique to America’s Sonoran Desert. Derived from the Arabic word haab, which means wind or blow, haboobs are very strong dust and sand storms that move through hot and dry regions. They are common in arid regions such as the Sahara desert, the Arabian Peninsula, North Africa and the Gulf of Guinea,” according to NOAA.
Witnesses in Ritzville described the Haboob as a wall of dust slowly creeping over the area. Viewers sent in dozens of photos of the dust wall as it moved and created zero visibility for drivers on Interstate 90.
Weather Service employees clocked the winds in Ritzville at 60 miles-per-hour during the storm.
Haboobs, like the one seen in Ritzville, form when air is forced down and pushed forward by the front of a traveling thunderstorm cell, it drags with it dust and debris. Winds of speeds up to 60 mph can stir up dust and sand and create a blowing wall as high as 10,000 feet. Haboobs usually last only 10 to 30 minutes, but on rare occasions can last longer and create hazardous conditions for ground transportation systems, air traffic and motorists.