Friday, July 25, 2014

Tormenta De Polvo

In the more than thirty years I've lived in Arizona, I've never seen a dust storm.  Or what the media now likes to call a haboob.

Well, I got to see one yesterday.  Ed was driving and watched it as it started to roll in from the distance.  I was on the phone talking to my friend Michelle, so he kept poking me and pointing to get my attention.  I had no idea what he was pointing at since there's nothing to look at out here, and just kept waving his hand away.

Then it was upon us.  
It's really hard to tell from the pictures because it still looks sort of clear in the distance, but if you've ever driven in Southern Arizona, or anywhere in the West where the land is flat, you'd know that you can typically see for miles.  Miles and miles.  Where you can see towns in other counties kind of  miles.  Like this.

That wasn't the case here, as you can see our visibility getting worse.  The wind was coming in strong bursts and tumbleweeds were shooting across the road.  There were only a few cars ahead of us but we couldn't see them anymore.  It wasn't crazy thick, like dense fog is, but we were looking for a place to pull over just in case it got worse.

Suddenly, we were pelted with rain.  Huge droplets, causing as much a visibility problem as the dust did.  Then it stopped, just like that, and the road was clear again.

From what I've read, this seems to happen more in the Phoenix area than Tucson.  We were in Gila Bend, kinda between the two cities, a little to the west.  These storms kill.  I don't know if people just don't know what to do when they happen - and they should, since they live here - or if it comes on so fast there's no time to do anything.  A few years ago, after our Phoenix UPS run was over, we missed a deadly storm on the route we travel to get home to Tucson.

The accident happened in I-10 near Casa Grande around 11 a.m., just three days before Christmas.  The thing that saved us from being in that pile-up was the fact that we decided to do some last-minute Christmas shopping in Phoenix.  Two of the three people killed in that accident were local teenagers - 17-year-old Katie Eide and her brother, 14-year-old Mark Eide - driving to Dairy Queen to meet up with their friends.  Three days before Christmas.  The overwhelming grief their family must still be feeling.  I always think of them when I see any kind of dust storm, even the little ones we call "dust devils".  They were just going out for ice cream and never came home.  Tragic.

These storms happen all over the Southwest, in New Mexico, and Texas.  Don't risk plowing through, you might not make it.  Know what to do.

Pull Aside, Stay Alive.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2013: A Bridge To Baytown
2012: Sometimes We Like To Lay Low
2011: Pick ‘Em Slowly And Gently
2010: Listen, Learn, And Laugh
2009: Where Is Robin Hood When You Need Him?
2008: All American Eddie Friday
2007: A Hippie Dippie Woo Woo Town Sporting Lots Of Leg Hair
2006: Flowering Rocks
2005: The Cool Mom


Decorina said...

We had them when we moved to Scottsdale in 1959. They lasted for a day or a day and a half. One time they sandblasted the paint off my uncle's car and scoured the windows so they were opaque. We would lose power and ate and played board games by candlelight. They never came again after the early '60's though.

You are right Salena, they are not to be messed with.

The Daily Rant said...

DECORINA: So interesting! I had no idea they were strong enough to strip paint! It sounds like you're describing the dust bowl of the 1930s.

Heather T said...

What's interesting and just as sad in the linked article is the 25 year old driving the pickup between two tractor trailers. The truck in front stopped. The one behind him couldn't. The person driving that second rig was the pickup drivers' father. How do you live with the fact that you accidentally killed your own son?

The Daily Rant said...

HEATHER T: Oh, I know. Can you imagine how that man feels?? Ed and I were actually on that very stretch of highway the very same day that happened. We had just finaled out a run in Phoenix and we were on our way home to Tucson for Christmas. But because we stopped to do some last minute Christmas shopping, we were there several hours after the crash happened. Unbelievably sad.