Sparks Fly

The wind is relentless these last few days. Yesterday the sustained wind was somewhere between 40 and 50 mph for much of the day. Visibility is down to about a mile because of the tons of sand and dust in the air. Tumbleweeds are on the run and some are flying. I saw some at about thirty feet in the air as they launched themselves off of an elevated parking lot. Once airborne they can fly several hundred feet and small ones can just keep flying.

Needless to say, I stayed in as much as possible. I had an eye doctor appointment and had to pick up some cat food so I was out in it just long enough to get bathed in dust and stung by sand. Later in the evening I had to go out again and noticed that I needed gas in the car. The wind was still howling like crazy and I had to go chase the trash bins before I could go anywhere.

Finally, at the gas station, I staggered out of the car and headed to the gas pump. The air was full of sand and dust blowing by at 45 mph. I’m getting stung by sand.. I stuck my trusty credit card in the slot…once….twice…finally on the third try it worked. Of course the reader wanted me to input my zip code. When I did sparks flew from my fingers to the keypad with a snapping sound and somehow this overload of static electricity shut down the card reader program on the gas pump. The program started to reboot — which took about a minute to come back. I had to start over with my credit card again. The same thing happened a second time…more sparks.  Reboot… There was so much accumulated static electricity on the stationary gas pump from the windblown particles hitting it and passing by for fifteen hours or more that it took three tries before the charge dissipated enough for the electronics to operate properly. This was before I ever touched the hose or pump handle. A spark there could have been serious. Meanwhile, after about five minutes of standing in the sand and dust I was beginning to feel like a pin cushion getting jabbed by needles.

We have had windy days before but this was insane. As I went on my way I saw that a fire had broken out in the rear of a materials yard where gravel, sand, and stones were sold for construction purposes. With near zero humidity and howling winds this could get out of hand in minutes. The thought of flaming tumbleweeds bouncing through the bosque forest is scary. Luckily the local fire department was on the way but they were still there two hours later when I went back home. Any unchecked sparks from that fire would have been a potential disaster.

It’s still windy today but it seems to be dying down but still gusting to 55 mph. Humidity has climbed all the way to 23%.  We have blue skies and no dust clouds. Maybe it all blew away yesterday. I don’t see my trash bins.




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