Nature, weather

What’s a HABOOB?


Is it an allergy sneeze?   NO!

Haboob, Haboob, Ha-boobooboo Haboob

Is it the chorus from a pop musical hit?   NO!


Is it a new kind of fireworks?   NO!


This is a HABOOB that hit Las Cruces, NM, on Saturday, June 24, 2017. Photo courtesy of Las Cruces Sun-News.

A Haboob is a massive wall of dust, and if you are unfamiliar with the name, so was I. Then I learned the name comes from the Middle East where storms like this are  common and can affect visibility for days.

Last Saturday night was my first experience with a haboob.

The irony is that I had my car detailed about a month ago. It looked shiny and brand new  and a special finish protected its exterior. I had 3-hours of hand labor done despite knowing that soon the Ford Fusion would be rained on. Nonetheless, I felt it was worth the investment to protect it. Additionally, I had the leather interior polished to keep it from drying out in this dry desert air.

But last Saturday while dining at a friend’s house, I parked my car in the driveway. Within minutes of arrival, the haboob struck along with rain and did its number creating a polka dotted car.





It made me laugh, and I hope the futility of trying to keep on top of things amuses you, too.

Haboobs are just one part of the joys of desert living. There’s the sudden hail storms that cut up our roofs and pierce the skylights; there’s the summer monsoons that strike at night with their thunderous downpours that last only minutes. It all seems rather erratic, yet I wouldn’t have it any other way.


Norine Dresser is a folklorist who moved from Los Angeles to Las Cruces in 2012. She has adapted well to desert living.


9 thoughts on “What’s a HABOOB?”

  1. Dear Norine —

    Haboob.. Gazunheit!

    Tell me how long the dust storm
    lasted and how you delt with it?

    Did the dust accumulate on your
    roof or your front patio?

    Sarah and I are in Vancouver, BC, Canada keeping grandson
    Wilson (age 15) company, while his
    Parents are away at a professional meeting in Portland, Oregon.

    Hope you are well and keeping cool from that 105+F weather.



    Sent from my iPhone

    1. Hi Bob: The only lasting effect was on my car, and I plan to have it finally washed tomorrow (unless it rains). The heat has been difficult and I ensure that my thermos of ice water is always in the car. Nonetheless, life goes on and I even go to the gym where the cool air prevails.
      Enjoy Vancouver, one of my favorite cities. And don’t bully your grandson. 🙂
      Lots of love to you both,

  2. Everything that goes around comes around, and your spiffy shiny car weathered the assault on it better than it would have if you hadn’t prepared it so well. L.A. was no learning curve to prepare you for the Haboob, but you were one cool mama in that hot, dusty environment. Here’s to you!

    1. Thanks, Sandy. The polka-dot effect has caused many chuckles around here. I meant to get the car washed today, but life intervened. Hopefully, it will get done tomorrow and if not? Another time before another rain.

  3. If you should ever have to drive in a haboob, (and if you get caught at the edges, you will be able to keep driving), make sure to have your air filter checked as soon as you can. You’d be surprised at how much sand comes pouring out–and it is beautiful, fine sand, too! The polka dot result is kind of cool!

  4. What an experience Norine. Is that permanent damage to your car? Does it wash off?

    The whole thing is amazing.

    On Wed, Jun 28, 2017 at 12:01 PM, Norine’s New Life @80 wrote:

    > norinedresser posted: “Ha…Ha….Ha….Haboob! Is it an allergy sneeze? NO! > Haboob, Haboob, Ha-boobooboo Haboob Is it the chorus from a pop musical > hit? NO! Ha…Ha…Haboob! Is it a new kind of fireworks? NO! SO WHAT IS > IT? A Haboob is a massive wall of dust, and if you ” >

    1. I don’t think the polka-dot effect is permanent, but I’ll have to wait until I get it washed. I’ll let you know. An Arabic speaker friend of mine said that Haboob (or Haboub) means friend. I can’t figure out the association, but OK.

  5. Hi Norine ,
    What happened to your car is what I call an Adobe Rain. Aesthetically pleasing on the cobalt blue backround, I must say.Ah, the rigors of life in the desert!

    1. I like the Haboob name better than Adobe Rain, although the latter more accurately describes what happened. However, I prefer “Haboob” because it appeals to my multicultural obsessions.

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