July 21st, 2020


Life in the Desert: Heat, Storms, Fire, Dust

We've had a lot of smoke in the air from wildfires in the Sierra, and while the haze briefly cut the heat around sunrise, temperatures rapidly rose thereafter, peaking at 40°C by Noon. I was able to get away from work around 1 PM and Lisa and I went to Reno to do our grocery shopping in the hope that things wouldn't be so busy on a Tuesday afternoon. For the most part, they weren't, but we still had more than a fair share of people either not wearing a face mask or wearing it wrong (below their nose, or even below their chin!) and we spent a lot of time dodging them. We did a big lot of shopping at Winco, then headed south to Raley's on the Mt. Rose Highway. Spotting that the freeway was closed due to an accident, we bailed off and drove down Virginia Street instead. It's slower, but beats waiting in a backup on I-580/US-395 south.

The staff at the Wedge Parkway/Mt. Rose Highway Raley's are mostly good, but one person behind the counter at the service deli was taking her mask off to chat, which defeats the entire purpose of the masks! The checkout clerk was good enough to not insist that he had to bag our groceries and let Lisa just put them back into our cart so we could get them out to the car and pack everything into our bags, boxes, and ice bag ourselves.

We had seen smoke rising in the hills of Galena (the name of the area of South Reno where this Raley's is located), and by the time we got to Raley's, the fire was clearly getting bigger.

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As we drove east through the Truckee River Canyon, the line of thunderstorms passed over us, but what rain that did fall served to make the windshield dirty and not enough to help clear it.

We unloaded our groceries as quickly as we could. While I was carrying a bag into the house, both my personal and work mobile phones started playing a warning notice: a severe dust storm warning. They weren't kidding. About five minutes after we got everything into the house and got the van buttoned up, high winds rolled through.

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I also shot a few minutes of video showing what the wind does when it whips through here.

You can see here large dust clouds rolling through, and near the end I zoomed in at the Imerys plant down the street (about which I wrote yesterday), showing how the wind sometimes whips the dust in weird eddies as it plays up against their building.

There was very little rain. (Rain would have been welcome as it might have cut down the dust.) The temperature did drop about 10°C rather rapidly, which (as long as you stayed out of the wind, such as on our front porch in the lee of the house) was pleasant. I'm glad we got home before the storm hit, though. I've driven in some of these dust storms, and it's very unpleasant.