William Spriggs
William Spriggs

Haboob is a word long used by meteorologists but until recently rarely seen by the general public. That changed in 2011 and 2012 when deadly dust storms called haboobs added an increased hazard to the drive from Tucson to Phoenix.

“Haboobs, Health and Valley Fever” will be the subject of a talk at the Arizona Senior Academy on Wednesday by William Sprigg, the architect of the U.S National Climate Program and a principal architect of the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center. He is also currently Principal Investigator/co-Principal Investigator of studies on airborne dust and public health for NASA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Phoenix haboob of July 5, 2011 advanced toward Arizona’s most populous city in a mile-high wall of sand and dust, 30 miles deep along a 100-mile front. Visibility dropped to zero. Haboobs struck central Arizona two weeks later on July 18 and several times since.

Sprigg will discuss the 2011 dust storm season and implications for Valley Fever, the topic of his most recent study sponsored by NASA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Powerful dust storms with winds upwards of 30 miles per hour, haboobs are common to arid regions of the world. They can arise suddenly and quickly reduce visibility to zero. How you react can save your life.


NASA-sponsored studies have led to quasi-operational dust storm forecasts and simulations for the U.S. Southwest. A somewhat shaky bridge now links airborne dust research to health services.


Sprigg is currently a Distinguished Professor at the Schmid College of Science and Technology at Chapman University, California, and a Research Professor in the Department of Atmospheric Physics at the University of Arizona.


He is current and founding director of the Pan-American Center for the World Meteorological Organization’s Sand and Dust Storm Warning System, which will join centers for Asia, Africa, the Middle-East and the Mediterranean to provide global coverage to the WMO.


Spriggs’ hour-long Arizona Senior Academy talk will begin at 3:30 p.m. on the campus of the Academy Village, an active adult community located off Old Spanish Trail six miles southeast of Saguaro National Park East. Non-members are encouraged to make advance reservations to assure seating.


            If You Go

What:   “Haboobs, Health and Valley Fever” – lecture by William Sprigg

When: 3:30 p.m. Wednesday (10-3)

Where: Arizona Senior Academy Building, 13715 E. Langtry Lane

Admission: Free; donations accepted.

Reservations:  Recommended; e-mail info@arizonasenioracademy.org

Information: 647-0980



Haboobs and Disease; 10/04/12
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