Oklahoma Has Dust Storms, Not Haboobs
Most places around the world freak out and seek shelter when the winds whip up, but in Oklahoma, gale-force winds are just everyday life. Today is no different.
Looking into the sky this afternoon, it's grayer than it is blue even though it's clear... but as you look lower into the horizon, the sky turns a reddish shade of orange.
Southwest Oklahoma is no stranger to dust storms. If you pay attention to the buildings and structures, most of them are covered in a fine layer of dirt. White takes on a faint rust color, vehicles lose their shine, and everything develops a somewhat dingy look that most Okies can't even see anymore... but the modern dust storms are nothing compared to the West Texas Haboob.
The haboob is a literal wall of dirt that typically rises up on the edge of a powerful thunderstorm. Since Oklahoma is the mesocyclone capital of America, you'd expect we'd see these more often.
They were once super common in Oklahoma, but it was back when we tilled up every square inch of land on the plains for farm use. With no cover crops or native grasses, there was nothing to keep the wind from taking the dirt into the sky. You can thank better farming practices these days for a lack of these monstrous dirt storms.
There are some pretty fantastic documentaries online about these crazy dust storms and haboobs from the time of the American Dust Bowl and The Great Depression. While YouTube is full of short clips, PBS has full episodes on the topic that stream with your donation.
If you're wondering why they still happen out west, it's just the climate they've historically had. While agriculture isn't to blame, it's more or less the mostly barren and beautiful wastelands of Arizona, New Mexico, and West Texas that provide Mother Nature her dirt curtain.