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A dust storm overtakes Lubbock, Texas
May 26, 2007 10:00 PM   Subscribe


 
I recognize every place in those photos.
My parents called me when that was happening.
And thus the circle of life is complete.
From Nature to Metafilter.
posted by fnord at 10:02 PM on May 26, 2007


Crazy. I can't imagine what that would be like. In the same vein.
posted by brundlefly at 10:04 PM on May 26, 2007


Hell, that was every summer when I was growing up in Chandler, AZ.
posted by padraigin at 10:09 PM on May 26, 2007


Los Angeles is not impressed. I am though. Good post.
posted by Mblue at 10:12 PM on May 26, 2007


The colors in these photos are great.
posted by tepidmonkey at 10:18 PM on May 26, 2007


Bah, my camera has a sepia setting too.
posted by damn dirty ape at 10:28 PM on May 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


I am really really not trying to be snarky here... I've been caught in numerous sandstorms in California and overseas in my life so I'm just a little oblivious. So here's my question... is this rare for Lubbock, Texas? Or in general? Because like I said, I've been caught in that kind of thing a handful of times. So I just looked at it and thought "Ok, so there's a crap sandstorm. Man those can sting your eyes. And?"
posted by miss lynnster at 10:35 PM on May 26, 2007


Only one question was this sand storm on dec 15 2003?
posted by orgvol at 10:46 PM on May 26, 2007


I've never seen one before, so it's neat to me. I guess it does depend on where you live. For instance, I continually marvel at snow.
posted by brundlefly at 10:46 PM on May 26, 2007


Related, previously.
posted by nickyskye at 10:49 PM on May 26, 2007


Well I hadn't spent quality time in snow until my early 30s so I'm with you on that. ;)

Anyhow like I said, I wasn't trying to be snarky. I'm actually curious if sandstorms are more rare than I knew.
posted by miss lynnster at 10:49 PM on May 26, 2007


miss lynnster

What's obvious to you is new to me. A blizzard won't impress anyone from New England.
posted by Mblue at 10:51 PM on May 26, 2007


I'm actually curious if sandstorms are more rare than I knew.

Eh, maybe just to me.
posted by jonson at 10:54 PM on May 26, 2007


Or what brundlefly said.
posted by Mblue at 10:56 PM on May 26, 2007


As a Portlander, I look forward to being unimpressed by pictures of dreary, unrelenting overcast and rain. In the mean time, these photos are pretty neat.
posted by cortex at 10:59 PM on May 26, 2007


I experienced my first one of these earlier this year (sometime in February, I think...coulda been late January). During the peak of it, which kind of coincided with the sun starting to set, I could barely make out the silhouettes of the downtown Dallas buildings that I was less then half a mile away from. It was creepy as hell. Kind of like what I'd expect Nuclear Winter to feel like.

It was kind of like the stillness and quiet you get with a heavy snowfall, but with the occasional hard wind that would blast your eyes and nostrils with sand. Unpleasant and eerie, for sure, but somewhat cool at the same time (I grew up in Oklahoma and have a bit of a weather fetish).
posted by Ufez Jones at 11:00 PM on May 26, 2007


Well, when I was in Oklahoma last month I was tripping out on the rainstorms. So I guess it's all relative.

Trust me, sandstorms are HELL on your eyes. Lordy can they sting. And they really make your hair nasty.
posted by miss lynnster at 11:04 PM on May 26, 2007


A blizzard won't impress anyone from New England.

It will if the blizzard is in Miami.
posted by bwg at 11:07 PM on May 26, 2007


The dust over Lubbock is as thick as the STDs among its teenagers.
posted by wfrgms at 11:17 PM on May 26, 2007


wfrgms

GYOFB
posted by Mblue at 11:22 PM on May 26, 2007


The view from above on these things can be quite nice too.
posted by hodyoaten at 11:25 PM on May 26, 2007


I don't know what kind of sandstorms happen in Chandler, AZ, but I live in southern New Mexico, and when people gripe about the duststorms here, I just laugh. I've been caught in duststorms in west Texas where everyone had to pull off the road because you couldn't see 10 feet in front of you. Sometimes you can see them rolling in, a tall dark wall speeding toward the city, and you can only hope to make it inside before it hits. These pictures are okay, but they don't do the experience of a real whopper of a storm justice.

These from Martin County, about two hours south of Lubbock, give a better idea of what it's like to see one coming.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 11:26 PM on May 26, 2007


Veiw from above. Thanks for the new google search.
posted by Mblue at 11:30 PM on May 26, 2007


GYOFB = Get your own fucking blizzard?
posted by miss lynnster at 11:36 PM on May 26, 2007


I can send you a blizzard, but it will cost. I also have bridges and moon property.
posted by Mblue at 11:40 PM on May 26, 2007


Things like this wouldn't happen if Texans would just worship the correct god.
posted by Flunkie at 12:15 AM on May 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


The pictures from the sandstorm in Iraq were pretty impressive, they made me reflexively fear for my SLR. Remember, if you are suddenly caught driving in a sandstorm, pull completely off the roadway and turn off your lights and take your foot off the brake to avoid a rear-end collision. I'll take a sandstorm over a nasty snowstorm in a second.

Mblue - that's just the marine layer - cough
posted by lazymonster at 12:18 AM on May 27, 2007


lazymonster

No, I have beach front property on Mare Serenitatis. It's sandy, and isolated.
posted by Mblue at 12:27 AM on May 27, 2007


Hopefully the first of many plagues to devastate Texas.
posted by stavrogin at 1:15 AM on May 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


stavrogin
That's nasty.
Why?
posted by Mblue at 1:27 AM on May 27, 2007


When I lived in Dallas, dust storms meant I could look straight up at the sun comfortably and even count sunspots.
posted by pax digita at 3:28 AM on May 27, 2007


wfrgms -- interesting article; thanks.
posted by pax digita at 3:31 AM on May 27, 2007


Mblue, stavrogin is probably one of those people who can't think of anything or anyone good that's come out of Texas lately.

These Lubbock photos are not so impressive. Visibility like that is kind of a ho-hum event for people in, say, Beijing. The Iraq photos and the Martin County ones by Pater Aletheias, on the other hand, are scary.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:39 AM on May 27, 2007


I'm a dust bowl refugee,
I'm a dust bowl refugee,
And I wonder will I always
Be a dust bowl refugee?

-Woody Guthrie
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:17 AM on May 27, 2007


As someone who lived in both Amarillo and Lubbock, as well as growing up in Portales, NM (the three towns form an equilateral triangle 90 miles apart), the Lubbock photos didn't impress me. The Martin County photos, on the other hand, impressed me a great deal.

I hate both Lubbock and Amarillo, by the way. Those photos of Lubbock look just exactly like the Lubbock of my memory—grim and unpleasant.

The Woody Guthrie verse flapjax at midnite posted reminds me that the whole of the lower midwest looked like that during the dust bowl years of the 30s.

*waves hello to Pater Aletheias, fellow New Mexican*
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:26 AM on May 27, 2007


A blizzard won't impress anyone from New England.

That looks more like a nice gentle snowfall. A blizzard typically looks more like this. As I assume is also true for the dust storm, photographs don't really capture the experience at all well.
posted by sfenders at 7:21 AM on May 27, 2007


Lubbock is known for three things. Texas Tech, Dust storms, and sucking.

FWIW
posted by Navelgazer at 7:26 AM on May 27, 2007


The better pictures would have been of the storm approaching. I remember one in the late 80's in Odessa (sort of near Lubbock) and the big wall of brown moving toward us looked like something out of a movie.
posted by Big_B at 7:27 AM on May 27, 2007


lynn: yes, those storms are common in West Texas.
It's attributed to the farming practices, and the fact that dietys just line up to take a free shot at Lubbock. I can't rightly blame them.

My elementary school was on the edge of Lubbock. We had fire drills, tornado drills, and sand storm drills. The first one involved running outdoors. The last two involved running to the biggest building (that had an industrial strength air filter).

There were little red lights in the safe rooms of the school. You knew not much sand would get in there.

The school had an open courtyard, surrounded by large glass walkways between the buildings. During the "nice" days, those big doors on the ends of the walkways would be thrown open to let nature in, and the kids out.

All weather in West Texas likes to move fast. So naturally, those doors didn't always close in time. I remember having a sandstorm blow in the hallway, and seeing dust devils in the courtyard. But my favorite was having a tumbleweed blow into my Latin class.

Damn, am I glad I moved.
posted by fnord at 7:39 AM on May 27, 2007


Dust storms are ok, but for real fun try a thundermud, that's the extremely rare occasion when you get a dust storm and a thunderstorm at the same time. It turns every drop of rain into a mudball.

As for Lubbock, its a pox on the face of the universe. My wife advocates the use of tactical nukes on Lubbock, though I think that's a bit extreme. Mind you, she's got cause to be more than somewhat annoyed with the city, when she was attending the university there some bright spark took a can of spraypaint and wrote "NIGGER GO HOME!" on her house.
posted by sotonohito at 7:44 AM on May 27, 2007


This post really begs for a "_or_leave_it" tag.
posted by signal at 8:04 AM on May 27, 2007


*waves back to Ethereal Bligh*

Hey, I used to live in Portales. Only for 11 months, though. Can't really say that I miss it.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 8:25 AM on May 27, 2007


sfenders has got a decent blizzard photo. I grew up in western North Dakota, near the Canadian border. I've seen zero visibility more times than I can count. I'm in south-central Minnesota now and it's a picnic compared to that.
posted by Ber at 8:49 AM on May 27, 2007



That looks more like a nice gentle snowfall.


Yeah, in Ohio I'd call that first photo a "snow squall" -- maybe three or four inches, and I can make out details way over 250 yards out. Pretty routine stuff; I've learned to wear yellow glasses for driving in it to help visibility.

In the photo you've linked to, there are a couple of trees visible, and if you knew the area, you'd have an approximate known distance for reference. Now imagine there's nothing at all in the photograph -- you can't see anything but perfect blank starting just beyond arm's length, kind of like being inside a giant ping-pong ball, with occasional individual flakes discernible against the white background.

That's a whiteout condition. When dust storms are that intense, it's just pitch black. Whiteouts are even more are disorienting and frightening because it isn't dark out -- kinda blue/gray -- but that's counterintuitive; you're constantly having to remember that your vision's useless.

If you do glimpse shapes, it's hard to infer size/distance if you're not very sure what you're looking at, and experienced people who know better can and do die trying to move around in whiteout -- the old "my grandpappy went out to the outhouse one winter morning in North Dakota and they found him out in the pasture during the spring thaw" cliché. Sandwichgirl (we've read about her before) went through a "Happy Campers" school where the participants trained for whiteout by learning how to find their way around wearing buckets on their heads (scroll down).

As long as I'm not flying, I'd a hell of a lot rather be in a dust storm than a whiteout.
posted by pax digita at 8:50 AM on May 27, 2007




Brings a bit more life to the phrase a friend used to repeat every time someone at church mentioned his kid at Lubbock Christian College: "Happiness is Lubbock in the rear-view mirror." Since that school was very popular with this particular church, I heard him say that a lot...
posted by azpenguin at 9:27 AM on May 27, 2007


I hate both Lubbock and Amarillo, by the way. Those photos of Lubbock look just exactly like the Lubbock of my memory—grim and unpleasant.

Say what you like about Lubbock, it's a far more pleasant place to spend a weekend than Midland/Odessa. *shudder*

Mind you, she's got cause to be more than somewhat annoyed with the city, when she was attending the university there some bright spark took a can of spraypaint and wrote "NIGGER GO HOME!" on her house.

I love the idea of a pinhead writing X GO HOME on X's home. I'M TRYING TO, YA DINK!

For great justice, please tell me that your wife is not even of subsaharan-African descent.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:30 AM on May 27, 2007


ROU_Xenophobe Wish I could, but it wouldn't be true. As far as she knows she's decended from slaves brought over way back when, also presumably from random white "masters" who raped her ancestors. She's milk chocolate brown, not the darker shades you get with pureblood Africans.

And yeah, the whole X GO HOME on someone's home is pretty stupid, but then, that fits the people who write that sort of stuff.
posted by sotonohito at 10:31 AM on May 27, 2007


Overtakes it? Where was Lubbock going?
posted by Eideteker at 11:38 AM on May 27, 2007


Hey, I used to live in Portales. Only for 11 months, though. Can't really say that I miss it.

Me, either. I lived there from three to eighteen years of age (For the info of other mefites, Portales is about 12,000 people and is half a farming community and half a college town). I will say, however, that my boyhood was pretty cool, living in a small town. Much better, I think, than the frightened and constrained way that many people I know grew up in cities. But by the time I hit adolescence, I wanted the hell out.

We moved there from Albuquerque a few years after my parents were married and I was born so that my dad could go to ENMU. So I don't have family there—my parents moved away shortly after I graduated from high school (to Amarillo where my dad had a job offer—he had been director of technical services, meaning "computing", at Eastern). I stayed in P-ville for a year, going to ENMU and working as a DJ in Clovis (KWKA/KTQM), then followed some friends to Dallas. None of my friends stayed in Portales, even those whose families are there. So I have had no reason to go back.

I was there for my tenth anniversary high school reunion in 1992. I also took my SO for a tour in 2001. Those are the only times I've been there in almost twenty years. An old high school girlfriend who still lives in Portales contacted me two years ago and she came here to visit me several times. She wanted me to go back to Portales to visit her, but I was pretty adamant that if I never stepped foot again in that town, it would be too soon. Honestly, though, I like Portales better than either Lubbock or Amarillo. In fact, for whatever reason (maybe not reflecting the actual level of tolerance there) I almost never saw overt racism in Portales while, in contrast, I saw a great deal of overt and unapologetic racism in both Amarillo and Lubbock. Incidentally, it was at Texas Tech that I majored in physics for a year. I hated Tech. At Eastern I had majored in music. But I didn't like Eastern much. I wasn't happy in higher education until I found my way to St. John's College in my twenties. Anyway, my sister grew up in Amarillo, a fact that I rue almost every day.

I lived for eight years in Austin—from 1996 to 2004. I think Austin is the only place worth living in Texas. But I'm glad to be back in New Mexico. Even Albuquerque, which isn't the best place to live in the state. I'd prefer living in some small mountain village. But I was born in ABQ and I have a certain fondness for it. At any rate, I'm just happy to see mountains every day.

I assume you attended Eastern and that's why you lived in P-ville? Or another reason?

Overtakes it? Where was Lubbock going?

To Hell, hopefully.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:21 PM on May 27, 2007


Yep, I expereienced that February 24th one first hand in Fort Worth, hodyoaten. In the picture you posted, you can see FTW (Fort Worth, where I live) on the right side of the image. I was in Cleburne when it hit, about 20 miles southwest, and thought it was just something that happened occasionally out in "the sticks". But as I returned to Fort Worth I realized it was there, too. In 13+ years living in Fort Worth, this is the most memorable dust storm we had. We may have had another one previously; I don't remember for sure.
posted by Doohickie at 1:48 PM on May 27, 2007


Lubbock has to move somewhere to go to Hell?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:50 PM on May 27, 2007


Meh. Phoenix has a few of those every year, if not a dozen of 'em. I've seen it go from clear and sunny to total brownout with nearly zero visibility in the space of 30 seconds.

They can sneak up on you, even though you can see the miles-high wall of churning dust from miles away. The approaching dust storms (or haboobs, as they are called in deserts around the world) are more-or-less silent right up until the wind hits. And then it sounds like you're standing in the stream of a sandblasting nozzle.

The Lubbock photos are pretty tame. Imagine it 10-20 times worse in an urban, car-centric city.

Interestingly, it seems like it's the one single weather phenomenon that modifies the driving behavior of Phoenix residents. People will drive as usual right until they're flying head-long into the storm and then immediately pull over and stop and wait for it to pass, then dash off as soon as they can see again.

Well, I guess there's actually two weather conditions that modify driving behavior. Haboobs, and extreme heat. Everyone drives like a drunken idiot when it gets over 110. People generally walk and drive around in this ongoing stupor of partial heat stroke. It's terrifying. Like a land of zombies.

Finally: Fuck Texas.
posted by loquacious at 6:20 PM on May 27, 2007


I assume you attended Eastern and that's why you lived in P-ville? Or another reason?

I was a youth minister at a church there, but got laid off before a year was up. I bought my house from a preacher, and sold it to another youth minister, so as near as I can tell, the only people (other than college students) to enter or leave that town are church staff members.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 6:40 PM on May 27, 2007


Also in Italy a lot of storm in the last 24hours

Pioggia in Italia
posted by isidoro81 at 3:49 PM on June 20, 2007


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