Wild West American Dust Storms

Sometimes there are many different names for the same manifestation of weather events. For instance a typhoon and a hurricane are also cyclones, as is a tornado, but a tornado is not a hurricane nor a typhoon. Depending on where you are in the world, the name that a storm is called can vary, yet indeed still be the same thing.

So it is with the great dust storms and sand storms across the globe. In different parts of the world a dust storm might be referred to as a black blizzard, a duster, sandstorm, harmattan, khamsin, peesash, samiel, shaitan, simoom, or a sirocco wind storm.

In Arizona's deserts, the summer monsoon season gives birth to more than a few dust storms each year across the lower half of the state, and Arizonans always called them by what they were to them - dust storms. Some of these can be very spectacular, and thanks to social networks the national media has finally been reporting on some of the truly mesmerizing ones as of late. While they roll into the metropolitan suburbs of Phoenix or Tucson, with the bright contrasts of the cityscape being enveloped by the incredible heights of these massive clouds of churning dust, how can one not be hypnotized by the magic of these images?

Within the last couple of years though, the national media has renamed our dust storms for us. It was awkward for many of us long-time residents to hear this new name. They were calling our dust storms "haboobs". In the Asian middle-east, and in Africa, that is what they are called there. But that's not what they're called here... until very recently at least.

However, I'm not quite sure that it's a very popular term around here. It's actually more infamous as a name that just rubs people wrong or makes them giggle. In fact, many, many folks I know don't care for it at all. Nothing against the word or it's origins, mind you. It's fine for that other part of the world, but it isn't fine for our storms. The problem the media had I guess is that "dust storm" just sounds so un-romantic, boring, and dirty.

So they changed it on us. Well, I'd like to take back ownership of it for you and I, and I hope that you, too, will find this name much more "wild west" appropriate: A Stormpede.

For me, it conjures up a vision of a herd of majestic wild horses stampeding through the desert, raising a wall of dust behind them as they run. But these horses are no ordinary horses. They are mystical horses, charged with re-energizing the desert, and as they run full throttle through it, those clouds of sand and dust begin billowing higher and higher, thicker and darker, fuller and stronger while crackles of thunder and lightning begin clapping and crackling until the full power of the new storm begins devouring everything in its path. A Stormpede. Now that sounds like something borne out of the American wild west, doesn't it? And it certainly sounds much more of an appropriate name for our dust storms than calling it an haboob. I hope you agree. If you do, please or at the top of this page on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus or whatever your favorite social media might be. Spread the name around and hopefully it will catch on.

Enjoy this wonderful sample below of the closest image I could find on the internet of my above vision. Click the picture for the full image, and give the artist some praise. Thank you!!

dust storm stampede by momp2 on flickr
photo by momp2 on flickr (click to view complete artwork)

Website article originally published on June 16, 2012 by Tony Pomykala

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