Texans Irate Over “Arab Weather”

Published on: March 18, 2014
Photography by: Loretta Hostettler, Getty Images
Dust Storm Over Arizona

Lady Gaga wasn’t the only thing causing a ruckus in Texas last week – a local TV station’s use of the Arabic word “haboob” to describe the region’s giant dust storms had some Lone Star Staters up in arms!

Soon after Lubbock’s KCBD News Channel 11 posted a Facebook photo captioned “Haboob headed toward Lubbock,” their page began to explode with hundreds of negative comments about the choice of a “foreign” word – kicking up a Texas-sized storm of xenophobia and Islamophobia.

A standard term used by the National Weather Service, a haboob is an Arabic word that refers to a giant desert dust storm – not uncommon in parts of Texas and the Southwest.

“It is a word of Arabic origin,” Jody James, the warning coordination meteorologist for the weather service in Lubbock told KCBD-TV. “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."

But that explanation didn’t sit well with some Texans. Negative comments ranged from “It’s a freakin’ dust storm, people!! It’s Not a Haboob!! This is America… be proud!!!” to downright racist and xenophobic remarks against Arabs, Muslims and even the President!

But it wasn’t all intolerance and anger – more than a few posters weighed in on the topic to tell the rest to chill out. “All of you losing your minds over this need to go sit in the corner and have a timeout. No more internet for you today,” said one fed-up poster.