Dust Storms and Haboobs: Dangerous Consequence of Drought


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Dust Storm Safety

Haboob, or gust front dust cloud moving along the Llano Estacado near Yellow House Canyon on June 18, 2009. Photo by Leaflet.

The National Weather Service offers Dust Storm Safety Tips for motorists who are caught on the road when a dust storm hits. These situations should never be taken lightly as dust storms have caused massive pileups and serious injuries to motorists.

When driving, if you see a sand or dust storm ahead or arriving from behind, steer the vehicle off the road and turn off your lights. According to the NWS, you should set the emergency brake, but remove your foot from the brake pedal so no lights are showing.

Lights can be deceptive in a storm and passing motorists might see the lights and think your vehicle is in the driving lane then swerve to follow behind, slamming into your stopped truck or car.

If the storm overtakes you and you cannot drive off the road, proceed at a slower pace using the center line as a guide and keep your lights on so motorists behind you know you are on the road. Continue until you can clearly see a safe place to pull off the road, then follow the guidelines above.

Wind, Dust, and Sand: Storms Can Be Serious

The combination of wind and sediment can turn what appears to be harmless dust into a damaging storm. Don’t underestimate the power of a dust storm; observe the beauty and power of this weather phenomenon from a distance.


National Weather Service. Dust Storm Safety. Accessed August 12, 2013.

Ludlum, Dr. David M. National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Weather. (1991). Alfred A. Knopf. New York.

NOAA National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Monsoon Awareness: Dust Storms. Accessed August 11, 2013.

Nelson, Carey. About the Dustbowl. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Accessed August 11, 2013.

Peter J. Lamb, Lance M. Leslie, Reed P. Timmer, Milton S. Speer. Multidecadal variability of Eastern Australian dust and Northern New Zealand sunshine: Associations with Pacific climate system. (2009). Journal of Geophysical Research. Accessed August 11, 2013.

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