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What's Going On Here? (hint: it's NOT snowing)

(32 posts)
  1. georged

    georged

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    A board member who's a long haul trucker posted some cool sunset photos in another thread, which reminded me that I had some interesting road photos in a forgotten folder you might get a kick out of.

    These shots were taken 2-3 seconds apart in the sequence shown. They have not been processed or altered in any way.

    Something rarely seen (in the US, anyway) is happening. Can you guess what it is? (Double hint: it's not RAINING, either)

    .






    Dogs live such short lives... and spend most it waiting for us to come home
    Posted 1 month ago #
  2. didimauw

    didimauw

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    Whoa! Looks like a crazy fog storm!

    "I don't know half of you half as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve."
    Posted 1 month ago #
  3. georged

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    Nope, not fog.

    Posted 1 month ago #
  4. jaytex969

    jaytex969

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    You're following Cheech & Chong down the coastal highway?

    Gunner, Black Frigate. Say "Hello" to my little friend!
    Posted 1 month ago #
  5. alaskanpiper

    alaskanpiper

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    Dust? Sand? Sea Spray?

    "We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that death will tremble to take us." ---Hank

    "Yeah, well, you know that's just like, uh, your opinion, man..." --- The Dude
    Posted 1 month ago #
  6. georged

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    Good guesses, but no cigar yet.

    Posted 1 month ago #
  7. chasingembers

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    Ice fog or inversion clouds?

    I like coffee exceedingly.
    - H. P. Lovecraft
    Posted 1 month ago #
  8. jaytex969

    jaytex969

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    You're keeping it smoky within the cab?

    Banjo would be proud!

    Posted 1 month ago #
  9. spartacus

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    Fire

    Posted 1 month ago #
  10. georged

    georged

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    Still nopes all round.

    Further hint: Though rare even here, this stretch of highway is where you're most likely to encounter it. (It's also where the photos were taken)

    .

    Posted 1 month ago #
  11. workman

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    Sea spray was my first thought, but now I think it may be in Illinois windwards from The Chicago Pipe Show and that is actually the smoke from rare, old tobaccos smoldering.

    Smoking is one of the leading causes of all statistics.
    Posted 1 month ago #
  12. jpmcwjr

    jpmcwjr

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    Yeah, well smoke, I wrote before the edit, but I see that's wrong now.

    I-80 exhaust?

    Mayflies?

    Dusog? (Dust and fog)

    Fog and smoke (Foke)?

    Holographic Laser beams?

    I know that you believe you understood what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.
    Posted 1 month ago #
  13. workman

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    Windshield is wet, so it's not a sandstorm. Is it some natural gas?

    Posted 1 month ago #
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    jguss

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    Low clouds? Aliens?

    Posted 1 month ago #
  15. workman

    workman

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    Aliens!

    Posted 1 month ago #
  16. trouttimes

    trouttimes

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    Heaviest Cottonwood seed cloud I've ever seen!

    “The Road goes ever on and on Down from the door where it began.
    Now far ahead the Road has gone, I must follow if I can
    Posted 1 month ago #
  17. georged

    georged

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    Aliens?

    DING DING DING!!!

    It's Spielberg-style Aliens (notice the capital "A") in a giant UFO trying to kidnap a batch of humans with their giant vacuum cleaner, only they hit the "exhaust" switch by accident and we all survived to tell the tale.

    Obvious after the fact, right?

    Posted 1 month ago #
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    jguss

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    I thought I recognized that stretch of road. I was probed there once in the summer of 1973.

    Posted 1 month ago #
  19. elbert

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    Looks like a chinook wind.

    Terrifying, whatever it is. I spent December and January running walmart dedicated out of Cheyenne. The best thing I can say about that stretch of road in the winter is that it ain't I-70.

    "An thou hast them, smoketh them!" -An Old Philosopher
    Posted 1 month ago #
  20. georged

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    OK...

    Nah, it wasn't really Aliens.

    I was spoofin' y'all about that.

    What you're seeing there is called a "ground blizzard". It's already-fallen snow being blown sideways over the ground at 70-90 mph. If you looked straight up, the sky was clear and blue.

    Despite the name, it's not a storm. Not even a true weather event. Just the convergence of loose ice and snow and monster-strong straight winds. That stretch of highway through Wyoming is at the exit end of a massive funnel-ish geological formation where it meets the base of a mountain, which combine to "squeeze" normal velocity winds from the north into a de facto wind tunnel. Add the right density pre-fallen snow to the equation and from time to time you get the kind of whiteout you'd normally only see in Antarctica or similar.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qz2SeEzxMuE

    Posted 1 month ago #
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    jojoc

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    ash from blowing the top of a mountain to start an open pit copper mine?

    Posted 1 month ago #
  22. alaskanpiper

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    What you're seeing there is called a "ground blizzard"

    Well, that's obviously what it looked like, in fact it is the first thing that came to mind, but I assumed that wasn't it because it was way too obvious and VERY COMMON. You said this was "extremely rare" in the U.S. This happens ALL THE TIME. Ask anyone who lives in a winter climate. It happens here on a weekly basis during the winter. In Prudhoe Bay it results in what we call "snow drifts" that are often feet deep and can bury buildings. I've never heard it called a "ground blizzard" though. We just call it blown snow, or snow drifts.

    Damnit, George. I was waiting to hear what this amazing anomaly was

    Posted 1 month ago #
  23. workman

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    So Government called George and told him to cover it up, huh?
    I say aliens!

    Posted 1 month ago #
  24. chasingembers

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    We just call it blown snow, or snow drifts.

    That's what we call it in Kentucky too. Man that stuff stings if you have any exposed skin.

    Posted 1 month ago #
  25. georged

    georged

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    Well, that's obviously what it looked like, in fact it is the first thing that came to mind, but I assumed that wasn't it because it was way too obvious and VERY COMMON. You said this was "extremely rare" in the U.S. This happens ALL THE TIME. Ask anyone who lives in a winter climate. It happens here on a weekly basis during the winter. In Prudhoe Bay it results in what we call "snow drifts" that are often feet deep and can bury buildings. I've never heard it called a "ground blizzard" though. We just call it blown snow, or snow drifts.

    Damnit, George. I was waiting to hear what this amazing anomaly was

    There's a matter of degree involved.

    Anywhere that experiences 90 mph winds ALL THE TIME (your caps, not mine) would make the news, I assure you. That's the low end of both the hurricane and tornado scales. Normal life of would be impossible. Humans in winter clothing would be blown down the street like leaves. (Aerodynamic drag does not increase linearly relative to wind speed. It is an exponential function.)

    About five minutes after that sequence was taken I watched an 18-wheeler get overturned, and another one go off the road and into a shallow canyon while attempting to avoid tipping over.

    Yeah, we're talking about two functionally different things. "White outs" involving dry snow can be caused by wind speeds considerably less than half the speed of what's happening in the pics.

    Posted 1 month ago #
  26. prairiedruid

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    Yep it happens here in Minnesota to varying degrees. This winter we had a ground blizzard that created drifts that filled in an overpass on the interstate......22 foot high drift. This was a bad year for snow and drifting in our area. Driving down my township road with banks of snow on either side over 10 feet high. Felt like a mouse in a tunnel.

    Posted 1 month ago #
  27. cigrmaster

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    It looks like George sneezed into a huge bag of cocaine.

    Harris
    Posted 1 month ago #
  28. alaskanpiper

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    Well, yes, of course it doesn’t blow 70-90 all the time, but the effect it is producing in your photos does not require wind speeds that high, 30 is more than enough, and is not something “rarely seen.” Either way, it still a cool and trippy thing to see, even when its a regular occurrence. It does get annoying during my 1 hour commutes in the winter though, sometimes turns them into 2 hour commutes

    Snow drifts were my nemesis in Prudhoe Bay when I was a surveyor though. Digging up control points under 6 feet of drift at -50 with 60mph winds SUCKS ASS.

    Posted 1 month ago #
  29. loneredtree

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    Are you in Arizona George?
    Phoenix gets sand/dust storms that look like that.

    There is a charm about the forbidden that makes it unspeakably desirable. Mark Twain

    “Very few people are focusing on the potential damage this ill-conceived and hastily assembled homage to the ability of bureaucrats to conceive of all manner of problems where problems don't exist then apply solutions to those problems that only create new problems without solving the original problems at all will bring to many sectors.
    Posted 1 month ago #
  30. verporchting

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    I used to live in Wyoming and had I signed on earlier I would have known exactly what that was. Ground blizzards are actually quite common in places where the bloody wind blows constantly, like EVERYWHERE in Wyoming. Seriously, it is windy there. A lot. Not all the time, there was this afternoon back in 1983 when it didn't blow. Much.

    It's a matter of dry as dust snow getting blown from one place to another at velocity. It can be pretty nasty driving too, since you can't see a blasted thing, and often the wind causes the roads to be icy as hell right where the snow blows over it, and then suddenly, BANG! It's completely dry again - just about the time the high wind and slick roads caused your car or truck to begin sliding sideways. Fantastic. At least you can't see what your about to crash into. Upside down and sideways. With any luck at all the semi truck going 85 mph right behind you will squash you like a bug.

    Yup. Don't miss that. At all.

    It's also pretty common around the Casper to Cheyenne stretch of I-25 and makes driving that stretch of road an absolute joy.

    Posted 1 month ago #
  31. disinformatique

    The Pipe Monk

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    I knew it !! You live in Silent Hill, dont you George?

    Cheers,
    Chris

    Albert Einstein was once quoted as saying, “I believe that pipe smoking contributes to a somewhat calm and objective judgment in all human affairs.” One of the reasons behind this statement is that pipe smoking is meant to be a slow leisurely activity. It takes patience to smoke a pipe. Unlike cigarettes and cigars, there is a certain amount of technique to smoking a pipe. Where cigars and cigarettes can just be picked up, lit and puffed on, pipes require the development of a technique in order to get the best smoking experience.
    Posted 1 month ago #
  32. mso489

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    Running out of options, I almost guessed hail. There was a hail blizzard in some tropical city recently, feet deep, can't remember where. So this is heavy wind drifting snow. Damn. Trucking is a risky profession.

    Posted 1 month ago #

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