A Sandstorm By Any Other Name

Jul 22 2011 David Titmus
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Haboobs in the News

This week’s “Unsung Hero” is Tammy Uhl, a realtime captioner who recently covered CNN’s “Morning Express with Robin Meade.” While captioning the show’s segment about Phoenix’s recent sandstorms, Tammy came across the meteorological term “haboob.”

Did her fingers freeze? Did she laugh uncontrollably? Of course not! Tammy didn’t miss a beat and continued captioning (with a well-deserved giggle or two).

“Haboob,” an Arabic word which means “an intense sandstorm or dust storm with violent winds, occurring chiefly in Arabia, North Africa and India,” was used to describe the harsh weather in Phoenix. Needless to say, host Robin Meade and meteorologist Bob Van Dillen had some fun with the unusual word…

Robin: A GIANT DUST STORM ROLLED OVER PARTS OF ARIZONA LEAVING PEOPLE PRETTY MUCH IN THE DARK. … SOME FLIGHTS WERE DELAYED. DUST STORMS LIKE THIS, DID YOU KNOW THE METEOROLOGICAL TERM IS HABOOB?

Bob: THAT’S CORRECT. HABOOB.

Robin: THAT’S THE TERM. I DIDN’T MAKE IT UP.

Bob: THAT’S THE TERM.

Robin: IT’S FROM ANOTHER LANGUAGE.

Bob: IT’S ARABIC.

Robin: FOR PROBABLY DUST STORM.

Bob: YEAH, AKA HABOOB. SECOND ONE IN TWO WEEKS. NICE PAIR OF HABOOBS GOING OVER PHOENIX IN THE LAST COUPLE WEEKS. TRUE STATEMENT.

So, now that you know what “haboob” means, be prepared to see more of them in the future!