Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Haboob We Actually Saw...

When we got home from the last Utah trip on July 5th, we got half a dozen texts from people asking us if we lived through the big dust storm.

Dust storm?

You mean the half a minute of wind we barely noticed hitting our windows when we were watching TV?

After watching the videos of it I was shocked. We missed a WALL of dust?! How did we do that?!

Frankly, I was disappointed. A massive tower of wind and dust and the only evidence it came through at all is a thin film of dirt on Danny's car? Not that I wanted felled trees or broken windows, but there was nothing!

I had finally gotten over my deep, soul-crushing sadness over missing this when I got a second chance. Monday night Danny, Maverick, and I were driving down Thunderbird toward the 17 (for some of you that means nothing, but it's kinda in the middle of the valley) when what we thought was just storm clouds turned into this:

And here, due to lighting, a far more dramatic representation (This one kinda looks like the cloud in Independence Day that's hiding the alien ships' initial arrival. Just without the fire and aliens inside.):

These pictures can't even begin to portray how huge this thing feels. Remember that scene in The Mummy where the tiny little plane is swallowed by the sand storm? Yeah, it's like that! But I don't think this one was started by an angry, curse driven zombie. Could be wrong. Just a hunch.

These storms are, apparently, pretty rare down here. They're a phenomenon called a haboob (no, I didn't make that up) that only happen in a select few places in the world including AZ and the Middle East. It's part of the monsoon weather (which is a technical term for heavy rains due to weather patterns of some such or another - not just a panicked term we here in AZ call any old rainstorm because they're such foreign, inexplicable things in our sunny desert!) and it has to have very specific conditions to occur.

And we happened to be driving into it.

Did it occur to us to turn around? Not really. How often do you get the chance to outrun a dust storm literally the size of Phoenix?! It was like driving in fog. The particles are so fine it's not like you hear it hitting the windshield or tearing at the car. It's dust, not sand or dirt. So it really didn't "feel" like anything.

The coolest part that isn't in the video is driving out of it. I took this picture to show the difference:

See the brown in the rearview? See the blue ahead? Yeah, that quickly things went from murky and dark to clear and bright.

It was actually really pretty.

On a side note, there was some destruction "near" to us. Our friends Nick and CJ were in the hospital having just welcomed their brand new baby boy, Wyatt, the day before when the dust storm blew their room's window in! Nick had to grab it before it fell on the baby! Scary!