As a wall of dust roared across the Panhandle of Texas on Tuesday, the National Weather Service put out a warning that a “haboob” was on its way:
“Haboob northwest of Lubbock,” the weather service warned. “If you must drive west of Lubbock, plan for near-zero visibility in blowing dust and strong winds of 50+ mph.” A TV station, KCBD, put the warning on its Facebook page.
What is a haboob, you may ask? It’s a word for a dust storm or sandstorm, and it’s of Arabic origin, which apparently didn’t sit well with some Texans.
Several complaints were made on the Facebook page about using an Arabic word for a Texas weather event, as noted by Dan Satterfield on the blog of the American Geophysical Union.
Although the American Meteorological Society’s Glossary of Meteorology defines a haboob as a strong wind and sandstorm in Sudan, the word has been in common use around the world since at least 1951, according to Jody James, the warning coordination meteorologist for the weather service in Lubbock.
“It is a word of Arabic origin, but we have a lot of words like that, like algebra. Cotton is actually an Arabic word, so whether we know it or not, we have a lot of Arabic words in our lexicon,” James told KCBD-TV…