Unless you live in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, or in the Sahara outside of the U.S., you are probably not familiar with haboobs. What on earth is a haboob? Well, picture the sandstorm in the movie “The Mummy” (1999), but without the menacing face. Yes, a haboob (“strong wind” in Arabic) is also known as a sandstorm or dust storm. Haboobs occur in dry regions and form when winds or downdrafts from a thunderstorm reach the ground, blowing dust up from the desert and creating a wall of dust that sometimes can stretch for many miles.

A haboob hit Phoenix, Arizona just a few weeks ago. I spoke with Elaine Gonzalez, a public adjuster based in Phoenix, shortly after the recent storm. Elaine said that haboobs are to be expected during Arizona’s monsoon season and can leave a real mess. Besides the clean-up, depending on their size and strength, haboobs cause property damage and power outages. Most homeowner policies issued in Arizona provide coverage for physical damage to structures directly caused by haboobs like most other types of storms. For personal property or contents kept inside the home, there is usually no coverage unless the force of winds associated with the haboob cause an opening in a roof or wall allowing the dust or sand to enter the residence.

Our firm represents policyholders throughout the country. No matter what part of the country you turn to, there is usually some weather activity unique to the geography. Before I worked on cases in Arizona, I never knew about haboobs. Now, besides being more informed, I can also enlighten others at the dinner table should weather trivia ever become the topic of discussion.