“Weathering” the Haboob

Last evening, we had what my beloved grandmother would have likely called a “doosey” of a sandstorm hit our area.  We had plenty of advance warning that the high winds would hit at that time, more than 24 hours actually.  So, it came as no surprise, except for how dramatic it would be as it hit just before sunset.

These days, these types of storms are now called “haboobs.”  They roll in on the ground as a huge wall of dirt and usually obliterate the sun for a while when they hit during the daytime.  They are dramatic enough when they hit during the daytime and make you feel like the apocalypse has finally hit, but last night, it hit right before sunset.  I went to gas up the car about twenty minutes before it hit and noticed that the wall of dust was very prominent in the northwest and headed right into the beautiful sunset.  So, I did something pretty unusual, for me at least.  After I finished getting gas, I drove to the west to get a clearer view of this unusual sight, racing to see it directly on the horizon and hopefully get a good picture of it before the sun went down.

I barely made it in time to get the photo.

Haboob at Sunset
Haboob at Sunset

The haboob was moving faster than I first thought.  It was headed from north to south, right to left in the picture, and directly in front of the sunset at left.  By the time I got to my favorite place to take sunset photos, the haboob was pretty much upon me.  As I took this picture, the dust was already starting to kick up a bit, so I took the shot very quickly with my cell phone camera out the driver’s window of the car.  After I took the photo, I quickly rolled the window up and began to turn the car around to head home.  By the time I turned the car around, the wall of dust had rolled in, and it was as dark as midnight with the winds blowing between 50 and 60 mph.

Back in June, I took the photo below as a haboob hit during the daytime.  Yes, that was during daylight hours.  Hubby was driving near our home and I was riding in the front passenger seat.  As bad as that one was, I think the one last night was worse, based on how far I could *not* see in front of the car.

Haboob - June 2013
Haboob – June 2013

I knew what to expect last night as I drove out to see this unique sight, as this was not my first rodeo haboob, but I don’t mind saying that the first part of the drive back home was a little dicey.  I was out in an area of wide open fields, which only helped to kick up more dust around my car.  Even with the headlights on, I could only see a short distance in front of the car.  So, I just took it slowly all the way home, collecting three big tumbleweeds on the front grill of my car in route.

I only wish that I had taken the photo with my good camera, but heading out to get this photo was not something that I had planned when I first went to get gas for the car.  A cell camera is better than nothing, though, especially at times like this.

There are a few things that I do inside the house when a sandstorm hits.  The relative humidity is basically zero, so I run our little portable indoor evaporative air conditioner inside for a while during a haboob and afterwards while the dust lingers in the air.  It is a little unit on wheels that we can move from room to room in the house, and it really helps to make the inside environment more tolerable by adding some moisture to the air.  We try to avoid running our refrigerated air conditioner during haboob, if possible, too.  I also light a couple of scented candles to help cover up the dust smell, because no matter how well-built a house is, there is just no keeping the nasty dust smell out during a haboob.  Fortunately, these simple steps help to make the indoor environment more tolerable until the dust subsides.

This haboob was a “doosey” because the wind continued well into the night last night, rattling windows and shaking the trees.  I plugged in my earbuds and just fell asleep to a good audiobook, rather than listening to all that commotion.

Thankfully, the sun is shining brightly this morning, and the dust has finally settled… literally!  🙂

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