When I first came to West Texas over fifty years ago, someone asked me if we had sandstorms where I came from and I answered, "Yes, of course we do, and bad ones, too." This person countered with another question. "How long do they last?" I answered, "Usually about 30 minutes, but sometime as much as an hour or two." This person snickered, but said no more. I didn't understand, then, but in a few days it came a doozy of a sandstorm which lasted three days. Now I understood.
I should have known better because my daddy traveled in Texas when he was a young man in the early 1900s and picked up some tall Texas tales about how the wind blows. I laughed about them, but never took them seriously. But, now,--- I don't know---.
Daddy told one story about an easterner who was traveling through Texas by train when it came up a doozy of a sand storm so bad the train had to stop. When the air cleared enough the easterner could see out the window the sand had piled up to a point it was almost level with the window. When the fellow looked outside, he saw a ten gallon Stetson hat half buried in the sand. He quickly lowered the window and reached out and grabbed the hat, thinking he was getting a real Texas souvenir. But when he lifted the hat he was shocked to find a Texan's head below it. He quickly replaced the hat, scooped some sand away from the man's face and asked. "Is there anything I can do to help you?", "Naw," drawled the Texan, "I'm alright, I'm on my horse."
I had some misgivings about the truthfulness of this story, but daddy said, "That's the way I heard it out in West Texas.
He then countered with another story: It seems an old cowhand was passing through the Texas Prairie riding his favorite steed and leading a pack horse. As it was getting dark, when he rode up to some bushes he deemed sturdy enough he could tie his horses for the night. He made them secure and rolled up in his saddle blanket for a good night's sleep. Just then the wind started blowing. He could hear the wind howl, and feel the sand shifting beneath his bed, but he just covered his head and went on to sleep.
He awoke, as the sun peeped over the horizon, into a whole new world. The wind had blown the sand from under the "bushes" where he had tied his horses, and he looked up and found them hanging in the tops of tall pine trees.
I had some serious doubts about this story, especially the part about tall pine trees on the prairie.
One problem created by the wind which affects the ladies who are house cleaners is how penetrating the sand can be. When we first moved to Seminole, My wife almost drove herself to distraction trying to keep the house dusted. We lived in an old frame house with no insulation in the outer walls. Honestly, at times you could see the sand blowing out of the electric receptacles. Before she could dust one room, it would need it again.
One day I went to visit a farm family who lived out in the country. The lady opened the door and invited me in. As I started to step in, she said, "Watch out for the sand." I looked down to see a pile of sand eight or nine inches high piled up inside the door of this really nice, expensive house.
My boss, Lynn Brisendine, told me, "You haven't been in a West Texas sand storm until you go into your kitchen and open the refrigerator, unscrew the light bulb and find it half full of sand."
When I first moved here, they told me the only people who ever predict the weather here are either newcomers or idiots. I wish I had done my predicting back then, because I'm not a newcomer anymore.
But, you know what? Through the years I've become convinced weather forecasting may be the easiest job in West Texas. All you have to do is say "Dry and windy." You are almost always correct. If they think they see a wisp of a cloud, I hear the clever meteorologists say, "Dry and windy with 20% chance of showers." This is a ruse which actually means, "There is 80% chance it will be dry and windy."
I've never been in a hurricane, but I have been in a couple of storms with straight winds which exceeded 100 miles per hours right here in Seminole.
I've heard a story about the fellow who ran out of gas a couple of miles out of town, so he just opened both front doors and let the wind propel him into town. The only problem, he got pulled over and got a ticket for speeding.
The wind does blow.