While writing this blog, it took a life of its own as it evolved from my experience yesterday in a dust storm to thinking of how Hollywood portrays what being in a dust storm is like.
Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol and Ethan Hunt’s chase of a villain out of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai came to mind.
But, before I compare my dust storm adventure to MI4’s Ethan Hunt’s dust storm adventure, I’d like to clarify the difference between a sand storm and a dust storm.
Is It a Sand Storm or Dust Storm….or a Haboob?
According to AccuWeather, a sand storm doesn’t rise as high as a dust storm because sand particles are heavier than dust particles. A dust storm can be localized and channeled or happen during the seasonal transition from winter to spring. A monsoonal convective dust storm, or a haboob is a dust storm produced from severe thunderstorm development.
The storm yesterday, according to the Gulf Times, was a strong dust storm. Here is a link to the article:
Now here is how my blog originally began…..
I love extreme weather. Yesterday afternoon while at work a dust storm happened. Within a half hour the entire school was in black flag status – meaning students, staff and faculty are only to go outside if needing to get from one building to another. With only a half hour of the school day left and the storm quickly increasing, all after school activities were canceled, including the after school movie with an abundance of freshly delivered pizzas to go with it!
This dust storm wasn’t like the dust storm in Tom Cruise’s movie Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol. I haven’t been in a dust storm as severe as the one in this movie. I wonder if dust storms become this severe or if this is a Hollywood created storm?
What is familiar about the dust storm in this movie is the need to protect your eyes from the dust and sand particles, wear a mask to filter out the dust and sand particles when you breathe and when the intensity of the dust storm increases, there is a transition of the color of the storm from a grey/beige color to a more reddish/brown hue. Strong winds do blow debris everywhere; visibility is reduced – but in my experience not to the extreme as this movie represents.
The storm, my experience started with the transition of a blue sky day to an overcast one – the sun not hidden behind clouds – but of dust in the air and up in the atmosphere coloring the afternoon to a grayish beige. Along with this transition was the gradual and continual increase of wind speed mixed with dust.
I knew a dust storm was coming.
And just like that….within 15 minutes or so, the storm suddenly kicked into high action meaning really high winds and reduced visibility of air thick with dust.
Now, let me compare my Doha dust storm experience with Ethan Hunt’s Dubai dust storm experience:
My Dust Storm Experience
This picture was taken on the main entrance steps of the Upper Elementary building looking out at the High School track field just after the storm kicked into high action. Notice the reddish/brown color of the storm. The palm tree does not give a proper representation of the wind strength as it is on the lee side of the building.
Ethan Hunt’s Dust Storm Rolls in Like a Tidal Wave on a Beautiful Sunny Day
I don’t have any pictures of my being out in the actual storm when I left work to get to my SUV. My dust storm protection apparel was my sunglasses to help shield my eyes and a disposable mask for breathing.
The disposable mask isn’t something I usually have on hand in case of a random dust storm. Before I left the inside clean air of the Upper Elementary building to walk to my vehicle outside, I asked a cleaner for one of the disposable masks they wear when cleaning dust on campus. Parents waiting to collect their children and other staff and faculty were also asking the cleaners for a disposable mask to have to wear before exiting the building.
In the below Ethan Hunt dust storm experiences, screen shots of the movie – Ethan just happens to have skydiving googles in his pocket and grabs a scarf to stylishly wrap around his mouth and nose!
My Drive Home in the Dust Storm
Ethan Hunt’s Drive in a Dust Storm
I’d say, knowing what I know now, Hollywood incorrectly portrayed a haboob in MI4. Hollywood forgot a key element in what creates this type of extreme dust storm – the formation of a severe thunderstorm. It was a sunny day when Ethan Hunt ran out of the Burj Khalifa in pursuit of the villain just as a tidal wave sized dust storm started to swallow Dubai’s 163 floored skyscraper.
Yesterday’s dust storm and my experience in it makes me think that perhaps it was a localized and channeled storm as there wasn’t a thunderstorm following it, and the Middle East is still in the winter months.
I’ve blogged before of my experiences in dust storms. I’m thinking the dust storm I blogged about in November was more of the haboob type. The day started with overcast skies. It felt like it was going to rain that day. Later, the overcast skies started to darken as a thunderstorm began to brew. A dramatic dust storm entered, followed by torrential rain with thunder and lightening.
I wonder how Hollywood would have portrayed my drive home in that storm?