A massive dust storm called a haboob engulfed most of Phoenix Monday night (Aug. 26). The towering wall of dust loomed over the city on winds driven by an approaching thunderstorm. The desert's summer monsoon storms create powerful downward gusts of air that kick up loose sand and dust into a haboob. The sediment balloons outward like an advancing wave, reducing visibility down to less than a quarter of a mile (400 meters). Wind gusts of more than 60 mph (96 km/h) were recorded in Phoenix Monday, according to the National Weather Service. [Watch Haboob Dust Storm Cover Phoenix]
Haboob is a version of the Arabic word for wind. The dust storms are common in the world's big deserts, including the Sahara, the Middle East and American Southwest. Yesterday's haboob was the second large dust storm to hit Phoenix in six weeks. This year's summer monsoon season was forecast to last from June 15 through Sept. 30.
Live Science newsletter
Stay up to date on the latest science news by signing up for our Essentials newsletter.