If you live in Arizona, or perhaps the Sudan, you already know about this, but a lot of us are only just learning about it. I’m talking about Haboobs. Okay, it’s a funny word. Get over it. It’s Arabic in origin, but the phenomenon is worldwide.
Haboob: (pronounced huh-BOOB) a violent dust storm or sandstorm especially of Sudan. (Merriam Webster). Or: a tumbling black wall of sand that has been stirred up by cold downdrafts along the leading edge of a thunderstorm or cold front. It occurs in north-central Africa and the southwestern United States. (Gale : Free Resources : Environmental Resources : Glossary)
Sure, I knew about sand/dust storms. I just didn’t know they were called haboobs. Check out this recent haboob in Phoenix, Arizona. I think there was a similar haboob in Phoenix about this time last year. Scary stuff. I don’t think they do the sort of damage that hurricanes or tornados do, but they they aren’t just about dumping a lot of sand or dust where it isn’t wanted. They can be lethal for anyone caught out driving in one. And that leads me to the point of the whole story. It’s some good news coming out of Arizona, and who doesn’t want to hear something good from Arizona for a change?
It seems the Arizona Department of Transportation is inviting folks to join with them in raising awareness of the dangers of haboobs when driving, by writing haikus about the storms, and submitting to Twitter (on hashtag #haboobhaiku). How cool is that?! Well done, ADOT! A word about haiku: short. Okay, for anyone who isn’t familiar with the Japanese literary form, it is a short verse consisting of exactly seventeen syllables divided into three lines/phrases. The first and third lines are each composed of five syllables, the middle line has seven syllables. That’s it; no deviation. Rhyming is not necessary.
I recently acquired a box of “Haikubes,” which I’ve been meaning to write about. This seems the perfect occasion. My Haikubes are like large dice, with a word on each side. I can’t honestly say I understand the point of them, but they just looked…interesting. So I have them on a huge coffee table in my lounge room, and they do inspire me to fiddle a bit, creating fleeting little haikus. Gives me something to do with my hands.
Meanwhile, I’ve been thinking about the haboobs, and have penned a couple little haikus for that awareness-raising campaign. You should have a go, too.
Wind and sand and dust
Don’t drive with eyes closed.
Haboob is coming!
The road is not visible.
Get off the highway!
Haboob! Pull over!
Stop the car. Do not get out.
Don’t you be haboob.