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John Wheeler, WDAY, Published March 22 2014

Weather Talk: Dust storms, or ‘haboobs,’ uncommon here since 1980s

Back in the 1980s, when the climate across eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota was going through a dry period, dust storms were common, especially during the period after winter snow had melted and before crops had covered fields.

During late March, April and May, it would not be unusual for 30- to 40-mph wind speeds to send topsoil airborne, turning the sky a sickening yellow-brown color and creating blizzard-like conditions in open country.

Dust storms have become uncommon since the late 1980s as our climate has grown wetter. Meanwhile, across the Southwest, from Texas to California, dust storms continue. People have taken to calling these storms “haboobs,” an Arabic word likely brought back to America by soldiers from Iraq. “Haboob” is an interesting-sounding word, but it means nothing other than a plain old dust storm.


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