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Sand Storms in Low Places

I've been in the path of a Florida hurricane and a Hong Kong typhoon, but these were not particularly remarkable events. The most interesting climatic phenomena I've experienced in my life have been sand storms. 

My first sand storm was in Death Valley, California. On a scorching hot May day (110F), we were driving across the desert with the air conditioning switched off to prevent the car from overheating. Never mind the people inside. At some point in the morning, the wind started picking up and the air outside started getting darker. How can air get dark? That's what I was wondering too, until I noticed the yellowish hue of the darkness. It came in plumes of sand an dust, like in a typical Western. We sat in awe, parked by the roadside. It was gone in 5 minutes, thundering on in search of others who could be taught about the colours of the air. 
  
My second sand storm was in the Turfan depression in the Taklamakan desert, western China. This time it was in June and the temperature in the sun was over 50 C. There was a paraglider flaunting his glider for rent by the roadside. Suddenly he started packing his belongings and in less than a minute had driven off, seemingly in desperate hurry. I didn't know what was going on for at least another 10 minutes, until the sky was covered by dark clouds. Then it began pouring down with rain and sand, probably in a ratio of 1:3. The cars on the road almost ground to a halt, as you couldn't see more than 5 metres ahead. This lasted for about 20 min, ample time for me to record a dozen videos of the foggy, sandy windscreen being swiped back and forth by the windscreen wipers. I don't think I've watched these videos since.

Only when I started writing did I realise that my two sand storms had more in common than just sand. Both were at places known to be among the lowest on Earth, well below the sea level (-80m. and -150m.). If you wonder why, just think about the sea: the bottom of the sea is covered with sand. If you dig below the bottom, what would you find? More sand! As for a depression below sea level: it's still full of sand but the sand is mixed with air. That's what I call sand storms in low places.

 

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Themes in story:
  • Florida
  • Death Valley
  • May Day
  • Western
  • awe
  • Turfan
  • Taklamakan
  • China
  • June
  • the sun
  • paraglider
  • forth
  • common
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