Wednesday, July 27, 2011

What in the world is a Haboob?

Record-breaking haboob rolling over Phoenix
Another shot of the haboob
The Ha-whats?? A haboob, according to the ever-so-reliable source, Wikipedia, is “a type of intense sandstorm commonly observed in arid regions throughout the world.” In laymen terms, a haboob is simply a dust storm. Given the fact that Arizona is a fairly arid region located in the Sonoran desert, this phenomemon has become a recent guest of the Phoenix area. In the last month, we have witnessed one of the Largest Haboobs in the state's history as well as a smaller counterpart a week later. I am not a weather expert, but my keen observation skills have led me to believe that these haboobs are signs of the monsoon season that we were warned about. I was given the pleasure of observing this haboob-monsoon combo move last week while enjoying a bowl of Pho with Stash, Ellie, and Patsy. Now one of the key components of these monsoons is rain. Yes I said rain. Rain, this also has become a foreign event to me and I almost forgot that the sky was capable of producing such moisture. The rain in Arizona does some crazy things.The ground here is about as hard as the asphalt on your driveway so when it rains, the water does not soak in but pools up and finds the lowest point it can get to....the canals.
Another haboob

In addition to the haboobs and monsoon-like rain, we have also been afforded the joy of a recent thunderstorm. At about 10:30 PM the other night, while enjoying the outset of a good night's sleep, a large bolt of lightning flashed outside. Now, everyone knows that thunder always follows lightning and one can count the seconds between the flash and the thunder to determine the distance you are to the flash. Everyone also knows that the farther away the lightning, the quieter the rumble. Not the case on this particular strike. About 7.5 seconds after the lightning flash, our apartment was rattled with the loudest crack of thunder that has every entered my ear cavity.  It was as if a bomb had gone off. After about 5+seconds of continued after-rumblings, and after the house stopped vibrating, you could hear the not-so-pleasant noise of about 10-15 car alarms going off in the parking lot. Apparantly thunder of that magnitude demands a honking ovation. A 30 minute-long ovation at that.

As previously mentioned, the rain from these thunderstorms and monsoons needs to go somewhere and that somewhere is typically the canals that are spider-webbed around the city. As I mentioned in a previous post, my new running playground is the canal that is adjacent to our apartment. I now see the value in these canals and their purpose. Although they may be dry and serve a great place to stretch my legs in the morning, they are also a great place to get really muddy after a rain storm. My runs have now been converted into a navigational challenge as I do my best to avoid the mud holes. This is obviously nearly impossible at 4 in the morning and I often give up and just trudge through the mud. Much to my wife's displeasure I might add.

So what have I learned about Arizona weather??

1. It does rain here. And when it does, it rains hard and fast and then floods.

2. A haboob is not a dirty name high school kids are calling each other these days. Although I wouldn't be surprised if it soon becomes a slang term of some sort.

3. Running in the mud isn't as fun as it was when you were a kid. There is a lot of cleanup involved and it is still a recipe to get you in trouble with the woman of the house.The only advantage that I have now, is my wife doesn't have a freezing cold garden hose to spray me with when I get home. That one's for you, mom.

Jog on Mates!

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