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Blowing dust

We are having another day of blowing dust. Anytime the wind picks up there's a likelihood that fine dust will be carried along. Having been here a couple of months, we're starting to be able to diffentiate the types of blowing dust, much like a Vermonter knows a dozen types of snow.

Today we are getting the nearly invisible form of dust. The mountains, normally crystal clear and stunning against the azure sky, begin to fade in color, and then gradually succumb to what appears to be a whitish haze. In the east, I would interpret this as humidity, but here it is the fine dust floating evenly in the air.

When the wind really begins to blow, the dust gets into the trailer and within hours we can feel a gritty coating on all horizontal surfaces. That's when the windows get closed. Outside, you can taste the dust if you are foolish enough (as I was) to try.

Some days we'll spot a dark brown cloud whirling off a few miles away -- those are dust storms, and they can be very large. The visibility in a dust storm can drop to zero in moments, and seeing one will give you an appreciation for what Dorothy went through on her way to the Land of Oz. You don't want to run into one on the Interstate highway (video clip).

Our campsite is about 15 miles from the Santa Catalinas, so I use them to judge the air quality. They have yet to disappear, so I can't really complain about the view. In the east it would be common to lose a mountain range behind clouds or even summer haze, but it doesn't seem to happen much here. The view is almost always to the horizon. I think that's part of what makes the west seem so endless.

Hummingbird season is upon us. We're seeing them everywhere now. Southeast of here, near Sierra Vista, are the best places in the USA to spot hummingbirds, and once we get things wrapped up here -- hopefully next week -- we will hitch up and go see them. The Airstream is crying out to get rolling again, and we've got to keep it happy.



How coincidental that you are talking about dust storms today. I just returned from a conference where I spoke to an old friend from Arizona State University. He told me that the dramatic dust storms have a name. Haboob. Apparently they are peculiar to Arizona, the Sahara, and the Arabian Peninsula.

Here's a link to the Arizona Dept of Transportation about the subject:

There's also a discussion on Wikipedia at:

Many places have their own peculiar weather phenomena. It's nice to see that this one has a name.

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