Iraq Sandstorms Make Lubbock's Seem like a Breeze - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

3/25/03

Iraq Sandstorms Make Lubbock's Seem like a Breeze

Coalition forces are now caught in one of the most fierce and blinding sandstorms any of us have ever seen. If anyone in the U.S. is familiar with what they're experiencing, it's West Texans. But as one Texas Tech atmospheric science professor tells us, comparing a spring sandstorm in Iraq to a spring sandstorm in West Texas is a little like comparing apples to oranges.

It's no secret the wind and dust can sometimes wreak havoc in West Texas. "Certainly the South Plains and Texas Panhandle is at the bulls eye in North America in terms of sandstorms," says Texas Tech sand and dust storm expert Dr. Tom Gill. But Dr. Gill says West Texans know very little about the intensity of what's happening right now south of Baghdad.

"It's much more intense and extreme in Iraq. That's a truly arid climate in the middle of the desert," says Dr. Gill.

The blinding storm has stopped coalition forces dead in their tracks. NBC's 'embedded' journalist David Bloom summing up the intensity with two simple words. "Oh man."

The storm has been so ferocious it has reduced visibility to under 10 feet in places, meaning soldiers must be even more circumspect as to not mistake friend for foe.

Lubbock resident Ann Foy lived in the Middle East. In Lybia for 7 years and Egypt for three. While her many artifacts conjure up pleasant memories, the sandstorms she experienced are more like nightmares she wishes to forget. "You're totally covered in sand. You can't breath. You stay inside, and if you go outside you cough and choke and lose your breath. Their eyes are likely blistered," says Foy.

Unlike sandstorms that blow through West Texas in a matter of hours, Foy says sandstorms in the Middle East last for days. The Arabic word 'comsine' means 50 straight days and nights of blowing sand. A weather phenomenon common to the Middle East, unheard of in West Texas. Two places on opposite sides of the earth that might share commonality with blowing dust, but our storms and Iraq's storms are starkly incomparable in terms of intensity.

Before their deployment, many of our troops were trained at Fort Bliss in El Paso, which sits in the semi-arid climate of West Texas. They train there because conditions in the southwestern U.S. sort of mirror conditions in Iraq. But of course, right now those soldiers are braving out a sandstorm unlike anything they've ever been through.

  • Local News on KCBD.comNewsMore>>

  • Aaron Hernandez had severe CTE; daughter sues NFL, Pats

    Aaron Hernandez had severe CTE; daughter sues NFL, Pats

    Thursday, September 21 2017 4:15 PM EDT2017-09-21 20:15:34 GMT
    Friday, September 22 2017 12:38 AM EDT2017-09-22 04:38:43 GMT

    Aaron Hernandez's lawyer said the former New England Patriots tight end's brain showed signs of a degenerative brain disease.

    Aaron Hernandez's lawyer said the former New England Patriots tight end's brain showed signs of a degenerative brain disease.

  • Maria destroys homes, triggers flooding in Puerto Rico

    Maria destroys homes, triggers flooding in Puerto Rico

    Wednesday, September 20 2017 3:55 AM EDT2017-09-20 07:55:20 GMT
    Friday, September 22 2017 12:37 AM EDT2017-09-22 04:37:58 GMT

    Hurricane Maria ties for the eighth strongest storm in Atlantic history, when measured by wind speed. 

    Hurricane Maria ties for the eighth strongest storm in Atlantic history, when measured by wind speed. 

  • Powerless: Puerto Rico faces weeks without electricity

    Powerless: Puerto Rico faces weeks without electricity

    Thursday, September 21 2017 3:46 AM EDT2017-09-21 07:46:11 GMT
    Friday, September 22 2017 12:37 AM EDT2017-09-22 04:37:31 GMT

    Maria hit the island Wednesday morning as a Category 4 storm with 155 mph winds, the strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in over 80 years.

    Maria hit the island Wednesday morning as a Category 4 storm with 155 mph winds, the strongest hurricane to hit Puerto Rico in over 80 years.

Powered by Frankly