Mark Frauenfelder at 12:23 pm Mon, Feb 23, 2009
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The YouTube description: "Driving through a dust storm between Wilcania and Broken Hill, in NSW Australia on 21 Dec 2007." (via bangocibumbumpuluj)
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder.
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Maybe driving into this wasn’t as dangerous as the video makes it look, but it looks plenty frakkin’ dangerous to me.
And what would you tell your insurance agent after joining the 50 car pileup?
“Yeah, we saw the huge opaque mass from miles away but decided to drive right into it at full speed anyway”
I feel rather silly for my first thought: “Why are they driving on the wrong side of the road?”
these are called Spring afternoons in Lubbock, TX. We often saw them coming, just like this. It’d get so dark the street lights would come on in the middle of the day! They still get them.
Isaac, yep, was gonna comment the same thing. But his lips aren’t pursed, he has his tongue out and he’s flipping the bird (his left hand, to the lower-right of his face).
Also, don’t these people watch disaster films? Yi-ikes!
It’s cool how well-defined the front wall of it is. I would have stopped at the edge and filmed upwards.
Great find, BB!
Haha. Not trying to be righteous. Trying to be jerk. Often am.
As Takuan has pointed out though I’m not only a jerk, but an idiot jerk to.
Should probably check spelling before I get all uppity.
Also nope, don’t know the Malcom X gag. Can you point me in the direction?
The car coming OUT of the cloud looked okay to me. I would definitely have gone into it.
I go to Burning Man. I’m not afraid of dust.
Besides, didn’t it look like there was a gap between the cloud and the ground? Eerie.
I was going to say the same thing #22…. “Talk about thrill seeking!” :)
50 car pileup? Google maps Wilcania and Broken hill – check out what’s between the two.
So what? The point is that if you can’t see the road, and other people on the road can’t see you, don’t drive! All it takes is one other car on the road to seriously ruin your day.
That is a fantastic looking storm.
I’ve experienced a few here in Phoenix. They’re not as apocalyptic as they look around here. They seem to carry only the finest of dust along, and once they pass there’s usually just a fine layer of dust on any flat surface. I have sat through one out in the middle of a field (hit while I was photographing the storm). Visibility was nil, it shook my truck pretty good and sounded like a sandblaster, but the truck still had all of its paint after it passed.
The desert actually has its own defense mechanism against the winds, “desert pavement”. It’s essentially just the rocks and pebbles left behind after a few storms have stripped the lighter soil away, and serves to save the soil left underneath. Of course, clearing the ground for agriculture leaves the soil exposed and ready to be picked up by the next storm.
Huh, I had no idea there were no headlights in Australia.
instead of landing on Ayres rock
Ayres Rock landed on them
Instead of landing on Uluru
Uluru landed on them
Jeez even better – now it sounds like some sci-fi legend.
Got caught in one of these once in AZ. My truck came out of it with a nice sparkly windshield, which I thought was kind of cool until night and the oncoming headlights…
It has the look and structure of a severe, rotating thunderstorm. I wonder, with all that dust bumping into each other, if a charge is generated and if there is lightning? Wind speeds anyone?
Does anybody else think of The Mummy when they see this? That other car was probably wondering why these idiots would be driving head-on into it.
Seems like it would be be bad for a car to drive through that – clogged air filter, abrasive, etc. Why would they choose to do it? How long do they last?
I thought the scary thing was the person driving was an “L” plater, meaning he didn’t even have his drivers license (you can see the L plates in the lower left side of the window). Now learners are supposed to get experience driving in all conditions before going for their drivers license, but I think that’s taking it a little bit too far.
Any ideas what song is playing in the background?
ever see this, Mojave?
That’s not an L plate, it’s a standard vehicle registration sticker. L-plates in Australia are bright yellow with a black L.
“Also, the Malcolm X gag doesn’t work with Ularoo – I’m assuming you got the Malcolm reference, right?”
Malcolm X? Oh, you mean the Cole Porter line that Malcolm later kind of cribbed?
Instead of landing on Plymouth Rock
Plymouth Rock landed on them
why would you drive into that? let alone on the wrong side of the road! ;)
So i guess they never made it out? Makes me wonder how the video survived. But on top of that, they compound the dangers of driving into a dust storm by driving on the wrong side of the road.
I’m sorry, I was just clearing my throat, what was that again?
J France, Adam, you’re both right: if you can’t see, pull over. Also, turn out your lights. That way, if another driver gets confused, they won’t mistake your rear lights for a car ahead of them on the road, try to follow you, and plow into your rear end.
If stopping would have dire consequences, try opening your door a few inches (or better yet, having your passenger open theirs) and see whether your emergency flashlight can pick out the road’s centerline or edge. Take it slow.
If stopping would have dire consequences, but you absolutely can’t see where you’re going, stop anyway. If you don’t, you’ll run off the road; whereas if you wait, visibility might improve before things get critical.
OMG, We are heading towards LOST island.
In Soviet Australia, storm dusts you!
“It’s a haboob-style dust storm with a thunderstorm sitting right on top of it. If you’re underneath one, the day turns dark as midnight. Then it rains mud.”
Whoa! I take it back; I’ve never seen one of those, and I’m glad. Sandstorms are bad enough. I’m thankful for all the little adventures I’ve had, but grateful for the many like this I’ve missed. The thunderstorm sitting on top and the raining mud would definitely unsettle my cheerful disposition.
There’s one thing you can be sure of, in rural NSW there’s no way there’ll be a 50 car pileup waiting inside.
first thing I’d think was: “Gee, pyroclastic flow. I’m dead.”
I was thinking more like Damnation Alley.
Y’know, I still gotta think that it’s still not a good idea to drive in zero visibility, even if you are in NSW. You only need to be hit by (or hit) one other car.
Situations like this with fog can cause massive pileups.
Maybe it’s because I have little experience in dealing with dust storms… but I would not have been so enthusiastic about driving into something that’s so very ominous.
I can’t believe how green it looks. Right now that area will be completely yellow/brown.
I think that the dust storm from outside of it would look as impenetrable as fog as you approach it, but, like fog, once inside there are varying degrees of visibility, especially for things like the lights of other cars. Not sure of the video quality, but unless the camera is good for very low light, what looks murky and dim and utterly dangerous on camera may well be dim but quite drivable through human eyes.
It’s a haboob!
We get those sometimes in Arizona. Rare, but oddly gorgeous.
That’s amazing. I wouldn’t have the guts to drive into that thing.
Is similar to something called ‘haboobs’ in the Middle East and Northern Africa: http://www.theroadtothehorizon.org/2007/05/rumble-one-sort-of-boobs-nobody-likes.html
If anyone around here is a big skier/snowboarder they can relate. I’ve been at summits that are above the cloud level. After taking in the breathtaking bluebird, you gotta drop into the clouds again. It’s quite the experience riding straight down into cloud and snow and chaos.
It looks like Zool has taken up residence in Australia.
Did she say “Looks like a little Ayers Rock”.
Wow. Can cars even breathe in that?
DO NOT drive into the Iad Uroboros!
Reminds me of a painting of the upper atmosphere of Jupiter from the kids’ book “Exploring the Night Sky”.
@#8 POSTED BY KYTSUNE , FEBRUARY 23, 2009 12:35 PM
Yeah, I loved them when I lived in AZ. Here’s one I captured as it was heading towards the city and hit Tempe.
I have experienced similar dust storm in Kimberly, ZA. The massive wall of red is certainly ominous and beautiful and all you can do is retreat indoors and ‘stuff the cracks’. The dust get *everywhere* and the darkness is nearly complete. I certainly wouldn’t do driving in one.
@ 1min 30 sec:
He: “We have to turn around”.
She: “Why is that???
Did she really have to ask why?
(She must have already eaten ALL of her Vicodin earrings )
Huh. Looks like a black blizzard (thank you History Channel and Carnivale for giving me more useless trivia.
Dust storms never got that bad in the part of New Mexico where I grew up, but I think that’s because it was the Chihuahuan desert – less bare ground.
#19–Yes, I did see the King of All Cosmos. And he told me via dust-telekinesis that he means to start building a Katamari of cars driven by crazy people.
tell me i’m not the only one who, under no circumstances, would have driven into that … thing. o_O
also, “independence day, what?”
In the Central Valley of California we used to get those on I-5 , then you would have a 50 to 100 car pileup.
I’d never drive into one of those.
I hate mummies.
was anyone else expecting to see demons jump at the car once they went in, or is it just me?
Frosted Cinnamon Roll!
“…really quite ominous…”
Yes. Yes it is. So why are you driving straight into it?
That’s Ularoo buddy. But if you are going to refer to it by it’s dodgy ‘white man’ name it’s spelt Ayers Rock.
you can see the L plates in the lower left side of the window
Nope Spikeles is right. That’s no L plate that’s a rego sticker.
It looks more like Dune than Australia to me. I expect to see 1,000 foot sand worms any moment.
I rode my bicycle in the Melbourne dust storm of 1983.
I saw ominous clouds when school finished, so I tried to ride home before the storm arrived. I didn’t make it.
It was a pretty shit experience. (I was 15, didn’t know what a dust storm was.) It was hot weather, but I put my wool jumper on because the sand hurt my arms. I was trying to ride and squint and not breathe through my mouth, but still ride fast because I was scared.
Jeez I was an idiot.
you see that?
i did, i’m going to discover how to make those some day, and when that day comes. i’m going to build a giant flying fortress in the center of it so i can take over the world and block out the sun.
that’s my new life mission.
(I love how this thread sorts out the Arizonans.)
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen the wall-of-dust effect. Reech is right — the dust gets everywhere. Even if you get all the windows shut and locked before the dust storm hits, you’ll still get tiny drifts of fine, gritty dust on all the windowsills.
What the people in the video are running into is a much rarer phenomenon. I’ve only seen it twice — once up close, and once from a few miles away. It’s a haboob-style dust storm with a thunderstorm sitting right on top of it. If you’re underneath one, the day turns dark as midnight. Then it rains mud.
I’m generally intrepid about driving through dust storms or thunderstorms, but I wouldn’t drive through a mud storm. There just isn’t enough visibility. If someone up ahead of you has panicked and come to a stop in the road, chances are you won’t see them in time.
These guys may have taken some great video, but they should have pulled over while they could still see to do it, and waited for the storm to pass.
Wild. I’d never have driven into it just because you’re asking for an accident. Drove into a smoke cloud from field burning once in the Willamette Valley and was immediately struck by how impossible it was to see, and luckily not by another car.
The rest of the video (without sound) is here:
@41 Before getting all righteous on #26… bear in mind that he was referencing the name the guy in the video used, not the ‘approved’ name. Also, the Malcolm X gag doesn’t work with Ularoo – I’m assuming you got the Malcolm reference, right? So cut a guy some slack, it was the funniest post I’ve read on here in a while.
I’m pretty sure I’d postpone my trip and do a quick 180 if I saw that on the horizon.
Anyone else see a large male face, sort of like the face of the King of All Cosmos, in this video at about 1:00-1:02? His lips are pursed, and he takes up the whole left half of the screen.
I’ve driven the road several times, and am surprised they even managed to capture another car in the footage at all.
And please don’t drive on Australian roads if you think “just stopping” in the middle of it is okay (TNH @42), crazy dust strom or not. All that space to the left and right of the road? It’s usable.
God I love Australians.
“Yeah, that vast impenetrable wall of churning dust ahead of us looks pretty amazing.”
“Should we turn around?”
“Nah, fuck it.”