Haboob Hits the Valley of the Sun

 An abiding memory of my childhood years spent in Phoenix, Arizona –or ‘The Valley of the Sun,’ as it is known Stateside- is the smell of warm rain. Every now and then I detect the smell in Belfast, which immediately triggers thoughts of baseball in the diamonds at Madison Number One and cycling out past the Greek Orthodox Church under Squaw Peak.

The summer seemed to begin around Groundhog Day and last until Hallowe’en, with roaring hot temperatures ensuring that many adult-accompanied journeys were plotted with the foremost concern being how to get from one air-conditioned location to another with haste.

Soccer games were organised for ridiculously early times on a Saturday morning to avoid the searing heat and I have numerous recollections of siblings crying because they made the mistake of jumping onto plastic car upholstery which had been roasted for hours by the unforgiving rays of the Sun.

On my return trips since emigrating to Ireland, I’ve found the heat to be rather unbearable during high summer, yet my childhood memories are filled with days spent outdoors in the heat without too much care for the burning temperatures. Something about the adaptability of youth, eh?

Phoenix has its own monsoon season, with flash floods often accompanied by fierce thunder and lightning storms.

But when I read the Facebook comments from my Phoenician cousins yesterday, I knew the haboob storm that hit the city had to be a fairly strong one, as the video footage dramatically illustrates.

  • Nobody believes me when I talk about the rain being “warm” there. I was in Arizona a few years ago and after a very heavy shower there was actually steam rising off the ground.

  • Rory Carr

    Yes, FJH, but that was as a result of evaporation when the rain meets the extremely hot pavement, it is not that the falling rain itself had reached boiling point.

  • pippakin

    A dust storm on a huge scale. it seemed to enfold the city, an amazing thing to see but it must have been terrifying to be in it.

  • How do I know?…………I usually leave that kinda thing to Angie Phillips. 😉

  • Chris Donnelly

    I usually leave that kinda thing to Angie Phillips

    No better girl for the job!

    Regarding your trip, I hope you took in Sedona, a beautiful spot with some great Mexican restaurants.

    Truly a beautiful state, albeit one home to some mediocre sports teams….

  • I was so impressed by Sedona, coming on it suddenly, and Oak Creek canyon close by that I returned a few years later. Prescott is a great high city too.

  • Chris Donnelly

    I enjoyed many summer trips to Prescott, Joe.

    Beautiful place with a relatively milder climate than Phoenix.

  • I’m a tad jealous, Chris. I have enough Aeroplan miles that the memories are starting to draw me go back in late September. My wife loves it too.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Late September at earliest, Joe.

    Spent a wonderful Christmas in Phoenix way back in ’01. Weather is just perfect at that time of year.

    I always remember laughing at the sight of my now deceased Belfast-based uncle taking a mid-December swim in my aunt and uncle’s outdoor pool sometime in the early 80s when still a thin-blooded Phoenix resident.

  • USA

    Yep, Arizona is a wonderful part of the world.

    Great Irish Pub in Phoenix run by Belfast man Seamus McCaffrey.

    Stopped at Montezuma’s Well on one trip just North of Phoenix, very interesting indeed. But stay on the path, or the snakes will get ya!!!!!

    I look forward to the opportunity to visit again.