The name means "poison wind" and is given because the sudden onset of simoom may also cause
A 19th-century account of simoom in
Egypt is also subject, particularly during the spring and summer, to the hot wind called the "samoom," which is still more oppressive than the
khamasinwinds, but of much shorter duration, seldom lasting longer than a quarter of an hour or twenty minutes. It generally proceeds from the south-east or south-south-east, and carries with it clouds of dust and sand.
It has been alleged that a "simoom" occurred on June 17, 1859 in
However, experts contest this account. UCSB Professor Joel Michaelsen, for instance, said: “I have never found any outside source to validate Tompkins' story, and I am highly skeptical of its veracity. I don't doubt that strong hot, dry downslope winds could kick up lots of dust and produce very high temperatures - but in the 110 F - 115 F range at most. The 133 F just isn't physically reasonable, as it would require the creation of an extremely hot air mass somewhere to the northeast. Last Monday's weather was a very good strong example of the sort of conditions that would produce such a heat wave, and our temperatures topped out at least 20 degrees below Tompkins' figure. Stronger winds could have increased the heating a bit, but not nearly that much. Add to all that meteorologically-based skepticism Tompkins' well-known tendency to mix liberal doses of fiction into his 'histories,' and I think you have a strong case for discounting this one.”
Meteorologist Christopher C. Burt wrote about the alleged incident: "There is no record of who made this measurement or exactly where it was made in Santa Barbara. Some later sources say it was made on a U.S. coastal geo-survey vessel. If that is the case then the temperature is not possible since the waters off Santa Barbara in June are never warmer than about 70°F and any wind blowing over the ocean would have its temperature modified by the cool water no matter how hot the air. This report is singular and there is physical evidence (burnt crops and dead animals) that something amazing happened here this day, but the temperature record is impossible to validate."