Xenophobia Meets Meteorology

Courtesy: National Weather Service Phoenix

I almost fell off my chair Friday morning when I saw an article in the New York Times about haboobs in Arizona.

Apparently some Arizonans have taken offense to the term “haboob” being used the describe the recent Phoenix area dust storms. Seriously? Haboob is an Arabic word that is used fairly commonly in the meteorological community for years. Haboob is derived from “habb” which is Arabic for wind.

Apparently the local TV stations in Phoenix recently began referring to dust storms as haboobs which lead to some frighteningly narrow minded and xenophobic letters to the editor on azcentral.com:

While other countries in the world may call them that, this is the United States. Even more, this is Arizona, not some Middle Eastern nation. I am insulted that local TV news crews are now calling this kind of storm a haboob. How do they think our soldiers feel coming back to Arizona and hearing some Middle Eastern term that is clearly an Arizona phenomenon?


Excuse me, Mr. Weatherman! Who gave you the right to use the word “haboob” in describing our recent dust storm? While you may think there are similarities, don’t forget that in these parts our dust is mixed with the whoop of the Indian’s dance, the progression of the cattle herd and warning of the rattlesnake as it lifts its head to strike. We have our own culture, too, sir, and we don’t take kindly to being robbed of it.

Xenophobia comes from the Greek work “xenos” which means foreigner or stranger. Hope no one has a problem with that.


4 thoughts on “Xenophobia Meets Meteorology

  1. Glad you posted this! People are so disgustingly prejudiced. Not to mention stupid–have they forgotten that there are so many other English words with Arabic roots? And our numeral system…

    I did read a comment elsewhere that said meteorologists just like saying “haboob” on-air because they can. šŸ˜‰

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