Lubbock Haboob | June 2012
Many people have never heard the word “haboob” before, unless you live in Lubbock, Texas, that is. I missed the last haboob because I was extremely ill laying on my couch and only aware that it looked awfully orange outside, but I had no desire to venture off the couch and discover why. I was, however, kicking myself in the rear for not getting photos as the photographer instinct kicked in as I jealously looked at photos on Twitter, Facebook and elsewhere. So as you might imagine, when I was sitting on my couch, again, this afternoon, and the news lady said, “take shelter – a haboob is on the way.” I put on some decent shoes (in case you get stranded somewhere) grabbed my camera and bolted out the door!
Game Plan: Head south to get out in front of the haboob, away from the not-so-pleasant-to-the-eye town landscape, away from the little farms right outside, away from power lines (which is near impossible) and get somewhere I could get a decent item in the foreground. Then I looked down and my gaslight was on – crap. So I pulled into the nearest convenient store and put in what I thought was enough gas to get me by. I also was aware that I only had about 20 lbs of pressure in my front passenger tire, which might not be good considering in situations like this, I usually end up winding up and down dirt and caliche roads. I pressed on though (don’t tell my dad).
I’m winding and weaving down country roads to get ahead of the haboob. Have you ever tried to outrun one of those things before? Well, let me tell you – it is hard! That thing moves so fast, and every time I thought ‘ok, this is a good place,’ it would catch up with me before I could get out of the car and set up. Afraid I might not get wide and far enough from it for my big camera. I quickly snapped the iPhone panorama below, then the dirt hit me before I could even get back in the car.
I decided to press on south, determined to get a picture with my 7D. Weaving and winding down backroads again, I found myself in an extremely sandy, deep rutted road I for sure thought I was going to high center on and be stuck in a wall of dirt. My solution – go fast, but not too fast – didn’t want to tear anything up or flip! I made it through, luckily! Merle dog wasn’t sure what she got herself into either, jumping in the car with me for an adventure. As long as the dirt hadn’t caught up with us, she did enjoy sticking her head out the window.
Cruising along, I finally see something that I think would be great for the foreground of my picture. I’m due west of Tahoka at this point, almost 40 miles south of my house! I’ve got my foreground in sight, three John Deere tractors sitting side-by-side. Unfortunately as I get closer, I see these tractors are down a turn-row, not an actual road, so my guilty farmer’s-daughter conscience steps in, and I picture my dad chasing someone off his land at a high rate of speed, not because they were up to no good but because it’s fun and they had no business being there in the first place. But heck, I had drove all this way, it wouldn’t take but a couple minutes before the wave of brown sandblasting covered me again, so I ventured down the turn-row. Sure enough, in the distance across the field, a pickup stops (I can easily see his break lights) and he’s checking out what the heck I’m doing. So I cruise along like I belong there and the truck creeps onward. Then I decided to turn around and go back to the tractors. The pickup starts to back up – crap. Finally decided to just jump out, snap the photos and go on my merry way. I figured if anything, I could talk my way out of it. Fortunately, man-in-truck did not pursue! Not quite the shot I hoped to get, but see below what I came up with.
Thus my haboob story comes to an end. I limped into Tahoka, aired up my tire, turned back north for the first time in the last hour and enjoyed the lightening show followed by a downpour of replenishing rain.
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