How exciting!! We experienced our first true white out (should say "brown out") while driving home from a restaurant in Florence tonight. The evening started out with the usual sunny sky when we left for the Greek restaurant in Florence with Dave and Carolyn Anderson. Dave was driving with his brand new Jeep...nice and clean from a fresh washing. We enjoyed a delicious dinner and headed home about 7:15. The weather was overcast but still calm when we left town.
Suddenly the wind whipped up in galeforce speeds and the dirt came flying across the road. Huge tumbleweeds would hit the car with a heavy whack! We encountered a complete brown out condition as we traveled on a back road back to Casa Grande. We followed the safety rules for driving in a sand storm by pulling off the road and turning out the lights so other cars wouldn't follow us into the ditch. When it cleared somewhat, we pulled back onto the road and proceeded on our way until the sand and wind got even worse. Finally we caught up to a couple cars that were stopped on the road with their flashers on. We couldn't see past or around them so sat there in the line up of cars for about 20 minutes while the wind rocked us and the sand blasted against the car and windows. When we finally started moving again, we came across a police car and another vehicle down in the ditch so it looks like someone missed the road in the storm causing the traffic back up. Everyone had their emergency flashers going as we drove down the road. We were safe and sound all the while but kept oohing and aahing at the ferocity of the wind and debris. It was the most extreme sand storm conditions any of us had ever experienced. It was quite awesome!! It was a tremendous wind with LOTS of desert dust and grit.
Then the rain came. There wasn't much quantity, but it turned all the dirt and grit into a mud that would wash off the windshield when the wipers swished back and forth. I'd love to see Dave's car tomorrow morning when the sun comes up. It will be back to the car wash for Dave and his new Jeep. He said next time Don gets to drive!
We stopped by the security guard at the gate. It was windy here at the resort, but they didn't seem to encounter anything like we met out on the road. We saw some leaves, dirt, and palm fronds on the streets but no damage we're aware of. We'll check out everything in the morning and talk with the neighbors to see what they have to say. Will make another post later.
Here are a couple links that explain a "haboob" or desert storm....also some awesome photos.