This blog provides commentary on interesting geological events occurring around the world in the context of my own work. This work is, broadly, geological fluid dynamics. The events that I highlight here are those that resonate with my professional life and ideas, and my goal is to interpret them in the context of ideas I've developed in my research. The blog does not represent any particular research agenda. It is written on a personal basis and does not seek to represent the University of Illinois, where I am a professor of geology and physics. Enjoy Geology in Motion! I would be glad to be alerted to geologic events of interest to post here! I hope that this blog can provide current event materials that will make geology come alive.

Banner image is by Ludie Cochrane..

Susan Kieffer can be contacted at s1kieffer at gmail.com

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Monster haboob in Texas--be glad you weren't flying into Lubbock!

October 17, 2011 haboob in Lubbock, Texas
from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfuDFEZYHTE,
as printed in the Washington Post
A haboob is a giant plume of dust that can extend thousands of feet into the atmosphere. They are common in desert environments, and with the drought in Texas this year there's lots of dust to blow around.  A cold front went through the Texas panhandle yesterday with wind over 60 miles per hour. They often form from downdrafts of approaching thunderstorms, but in this case the winds of the cold front alone were sufficient to kick up the storm.  Cars were forced to stop on highways, and FAA controllers at Lubbock International Airport had to evacuate. Haboobs can be 100 km wide, and they can travel up to 100 km/hour (60 mph). If there is rain mixed into them, they become mud storms.

Probably the best video I've ever found on haboobs is this one from the July 5th, 2011, haboob in Phoenix. This Phoenix haboob was produced by downdrafts associated with a monsoon thunderstorm. As with Texas, Phoenix has been in a drought and so there was enough dust to make the haboob exceptionally intense.

Haboob is an Arabic word for "strong wind."

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