Haboob! – Lightning and Rain and Dust, Oh My!

By: Christopher Trimble

As a resident of North Scottsdale and lifetime resident of Arizona, I thought I knew all the city’s secrets… until I became a docent at SMEEC!

Trained by the National Weather Service (NWS) and Amateur Radio Emergency Service, I report storm conditions from a ground vantage point using tools like anemometers, rain gauges, etc. This program, known as SKYWARN, protects lives and property, and enhances alerts in real-time by reporting severe conditions directly to the NWS via phone, web, email or even ham radio. During severe weather events, NWS activates a radio net with a primary repeater on South Mountain!

With my background in weather, I was thrilled when the park rangers at South Mountain Environmental Education Center (SMEEC) requested my help at “Haboob!” The Second Summer of the Sonoran Desert on Saturday, August 24.

Interesting Facts:

  • Not only is the Sonoran Desert home to countless plants, animals and other living species, it also has exclusive weather patterns found nowhere else!
  • On a good year, rain totals up to 12 inches!
  • Lightning is charged with 1 billion volts and less than 200,000 amps, while it takes one amp to stop the human heart!

Remember, safety is always key! Be ready for potential emergencies that may affect you such as loss of power, flood, displacement, etc. Pay attention to media outlets such as radio and television for weather updates. Have a family safety and communication plan. This plan should consist of multiple house exits and a meeting spot.

When on the road during a dust storm or haboob, turn off all lights, pull aside, stay alive! One should stay away from any running water on roadways. Water rescues are all too common in these low laying areas (arroyos, dips, washes, canals, and river crossings).