- Written by Shyam
When the Air Itself Turns Against You!
They are known by many names: Haboob, Simum, Black Blizzards. A solid wall of dust almost a mile high, moving whole sand dunes and bringing Biblical darkness to the huge areas of the world. Scorching hot winds (up to 40 degrees Celsius) blowing the sand around with hurricane speeds... What seems extreme to us is actually a common occurrence in Africa and the Middle East. The similar sand-saturated hurricane-speed storms over Mediterranian are called Sirocco, Yugo and Ghibli. The dust (or desert sand) particles become airborne and held in suspension, creating a moving front. The convection of cold air over the heated ground maintains the storm and keeps the dust rolling.
See one such storm coming into the Israeli Negev desert from Sinai (advancing with the speed of appr. 40 mph). According to the photographer Eviathar ben Zedeff (link), the sand wall is over 4,000 ft high:
Sand Storm in Khartoum, Sudan: