Most of the time, when I complain about the weather in Phoenix, I’m fully aware that I’m being a complete and total weather pussy. I grew up in Chicago, where wind and cold conspire to turn every day activities, like pumping gas, into life-threatening ordeals the likes of which are usually confined to a Jack London novel. So I should know better when I complain about an 80 degree day in March with no clouds in the sky because, “it’s just a little too warm for hiking.” I’ve got friends on the East Coast who have had so much snow this winter that they’ve had to leave their home via the attic and use their frozen grandmother’s corpse as a makeshift sled in a desperate bid to get food and medicine, but I’m down here getting tweaked because snakes are slightly more active when the temperatures hit 80. No word yet on whether or not they’ll film the next season of Survivor at my house.
Of course all of that changes in the summer, when temperatures soar to almost 120 degrees, and even the night time temps are in triple digits. That is extreme weather by any stretch of the imagination, although when people ask me about it, they tend to fall back on clichés rather than use their imagination. “Is it really hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk?” they ask.
“The sidewalk? It’s hot enough to fry an egg on my nutsack,” I tell them. “And I often do.” (This may explain why my friends no longer ask me about the weather down here, and it probably also explains why they don’t eat breakfast at my house when they come to visit.)
But normally, the weather here is so pleasant that we find ourselves complaining about incredibly trivial things, like how it rained once last month, causing everyone to have to get their car washed. Seriously, I’ve heard people complain about rain when we haven’t had any in six months. Mark my words, if ever a city just decides that they can’t be hassled with bullshit things like weather and puts up a giant dome, it will be Phoenix.
But sometimes, Phoenix makes you feel like a total weather badass. Take today, for instance. I was at work when everybody’s cell phone erupted in emergency tones of the kind you’d normally associate with nuclear meltdowns and Kardashian sightings. Everyone looked at their phone and saw the following:
That’s right! It’s… A LITTLE DUSTY! Run for the motherfucking hills! It’s dust!!!!!!!!
To be fair, a dust storm can be pretty serious if you’re traveling or happen to be all out of lemon-scented Pledge. But that’s totally undercut by the fact that it’s just called a dust storm. It should be called a Dustnado, or maybe a Dirtnami. I think we should give serious consideration to calling it a Class V Airborne Killstorm. Something that dramatic would be cause for genuine alarm, and then maybe we could get the fucking politicians to do something about building that goddamn dome already.
Even the really dramatic dust storms suffer from a comical name. This, my friends, is what is called a haboob:
Don’t get me wrong, I love this name. It gives me an excuse to make juvenile boob jokes (although, lets be honest, when have I ever needed an excuse?). But it’s not going to win any Scary Weather contests with a name like that. Would people be as afraid of tornados if they were called “whirling boners”? No, we’d all laugh our asses off at whirling boners, even as they were flinging our lifeless bodies into the stratosphere.
And realistically, a haboob isn’t even that dangerous. I’ve driven into one of them, and it’s hard to get too frightened when the entire survival guide consists of two words:
Some people will tell you that it is still dangerous, because someone might run into you while you’re in your car. These people are morons. Due to the massive number of senior citizens in Arizona, it’s only a matter of time before one of them runs into you while you’re in your house. Of course you’re going to get hit by a car if you do something stupid like drive on the roads down here. That just goes without saying.
So that was our little bit of weather-induced excitement today. Everyone looked at their phone, and within minutes, people were frowning at radar patterns on Weather.com, discussing what this ominous turn of events meant for us. And since I live on the edge of the desert and pretty much had to drive straight into the teeth of this deadly Class V Airborne Killstorm, I am in a position to tell you exactly what it meant.
It was a little dusty. Send lemon-scented Pledge.
How did you ever keep your head from spinning from all the excitement, Greg?
I kinda like the spinning. It’s like having my own personal and constant amusement park ride.
We have a term here for a small dust storm twister; it’s called a willy-willy. That might make you snicker, too. Some call it a mini tornado, but I think that’s a bit dramatic for what it is. Once on a camping trip, I got a really good photo of one coming across the salt flats toward our camp site. I was so proud.
Lemon Pledge sucks. It’s sticky and makes me cough.
Oh yeah, we get those too. We call them dust devils, which sounds a little more serious that a willy-willy. I dunno if they get as large down there as they do here, but they can get so large that people mistake them for tornados:
As for Lemon Pledge making you cough, try using it on your furniture instead of huffing it.
This post had me in a steady stream of loling.
“Run for the motherfucking hills!”
Whatever you do, DON’T GET DIRTY.
Well, some people like to tough it out, like this couple that didn’t let trivial shit like not being able to see or breathe stop their wedding:
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