Sahara desert. Credit: Abdullah

Dust storm (haboob) over the US

11 March 2014 17:30 UTC

Sahara desert. Credit: Abdullah
Sahara desert. Credit: Abdullah

A cold front moving southwards across Midwestern United States caused an intense dust squall (known as a haboob) in 11 March 2014.

Last Updated

07 September 2022

Published on

11 March 2014

A haboob (named after the Arabic word 'habūb' meaning strong wind) is a dust storm caused by convective downbursts. Haboobs are the walls of dust and sand that most people think of as sandstorms. Haboobs tend to cover an area around 100–150km.

The winds associated with the dust storm reached around 97km/h (60mph) in both Texas and Kansas. It was reported that in some parts of Texas visibility was reduced to almost zero and to 400m in Kansas.

The Metop Natural Colour RGB images below clearly shows how quickly these dust storms can form.

The before image, taken by Metop-B at 16:45 UTC (Figure 1, left), shows the American High Plains are clear. Just 45 minutes later, at 17:30 UTC, the Metop-A image (Figure 1, right) shows the dust storm.

Before and during comparison

Image from Metop-A, 17:30 UTC, during the haboob compare1

Figure 1: Comparison of Metop images before and during the dust storm on 11 March.