Arabia weather term sparks a tempest in Texas
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Arabia weather term sparks a tempest in Texas

‘Haboob’ is a meteorological definition for a kind of dust storm, but some don’t like the Middle Eastern association

A haboob dust storm engulfs Lubbock International Airport in Texas on May 29, 2016. (Screen Capture: YouTube)
A haboob dust storm engulfs Lubbock International Airport in Texas on May 29, 2016. (Screen Capture: YouTube)

Some Texans are up in arms over the use of an Arabic term to describe dusty weather on their local reports, claiming that there is no place for it in their neck of the woods.

The word “haboob” — a meteorological term for a kind of intense dust storm — comes from the Arabic word “habūb,” which means “blowing furiously.” It was recently used to describe a weather phenomenon in Lubbock, Texas, to great displeasure, according to the Washington Post.

While the word was an accurate description for the storm that hit the area, some people did not like the Arabic association, taking to social media to complain that its use was inappropriate for their region.

Others, however, defended the term. Meteorologists said that simply using the term “dust storm” is too general, and the term “haboob” is more accurate when describing the narrower column of dust, such as the one to recently descend upon Lubbock.

While complaining, Texans may not have thought about all of the other non-English terms used to describe a weather-related event in the English language. People are more familiar with terms such as “El Nino” and “tsunami,” which no one in Texas seems to be making a fuss about at the moment.

Another photo of the haboob that impacted much of West Texas and the Permian Basin yesterday. A haboob is generated by…

Posted by Texas Storm Chasers on Monday, 30 May 2016

But the Texas Storm Chasers, who publish a weather blog in the state, were less than moved by the protests, explaining on Facebook that, “Contrary to popular Texas belief the term haboob is actually scientific in origin and not from the middle east.”

And in response to a hostile comment beneath their post, they wrote: “For the record… we are going to continue to use the word Haboob as we see fit. If you’re commenting as an attempt to stop us from using that term in the future, you might as well save your breath. We respect your choice to not use it, please respect our choice to keep using it. Thank you.”

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