TIME viral

Watch an Unbelievable Dust Storm Turn Belarus Into Tatooine

This is terrifying

An incredible video has surfaced of a bizarre weather phenomenon that, within a matter of minutes, transformed day into night in the Belarus city of Soligorsk on Monday.

Thankfully, while property damage was reported in the region, nobody was injured during the storm, says the Russian news outlet RT.

A cold front near the border with Ukraine created the epic dust storm called a “haboob,” which is rare in the region at this time of year. What’s more, the storm also included heavy rain.

It appears Mother Nature reminded us that science fiction may not be so outlandish after all.

Read next: How a Dust Storm Inspired a Mass Exodus and a Great Novel

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME natural disaster

How a Dust Storm Inspired a Mass Exodus and a Great Novel

Dust Storm
Arthur Rothstein—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images Father & sons walking towards shack, pace slowed by dust storm, in the Great Plains in the 1930s

April 14, 1935: The worst dust storm in history descends on the Great Plains—exactly four years before 'The Grapes of Wrath' is published

The dust fell so thickly on this day, April 14, 80 years ago, that even Okies and Texans inured to dust storms thought the end of the world was upon them. The fast-moving, low-hanging black cloud caught them unprepared, trapping motorists in their cars and forcing those who were caught out in the open to drop to their knees and crawl blindly toward shelter, according to an account by the Oklahoma Climatological Survey. “Afternoon brightness [plunged] immediately into midnight darkness,” noted one National Weather Service observer.

It became known as the Black Sunday storm — the worst on record in the drought-stricken Great Plains. An Associated Press reporter and photographer who had tried to outrun the storm in a car were trapped for hours in the suffocating blackness. The next day, the reporter used the term “Dust Bowl” for the first time in print to describe the devastated region: “Three little words — achingly familiar on a western farmer’s tongue — rule life today in the dust bowl of the continent … ‘if it rains,’ ” he wrote.

Four years after Black Sunday, John Steinbeck marked the storm’s anniversary by publishing The Grapes of Wrath, the iconic tale of Oklahoma tenant farmers driven off their land and pushed into California in search of a new life. The fictional Joad family joined the real-life exodus of migrant farmers — roughly a quarter of a million of them, per TIME — who followed the same path out of desperation after the farms of the Great Plains were ruined by drought, overgrazing and unsustainable farming practices.

But in the promised land where Ma Joad dreamed of “a white house with oranges growin’ around,” they encountered hostility and living conditions not much better than in the dusty wasteland they’d left behind.

“Some of them camp in packing-box jungles and drink ditchwater; others are lucky enough to lodge in new government camps with modern plumbing and electric washing machines,” TIME observed in a 1940 article that compared the real-life migrant farmers to Steinbeck’s fictional ones. (Reviled as the penniless Okies were in California, TIME offered an ambivalent defense: “Strangely enough the incidence of venereal disease among the migrants is lower than among native Californians, and they have relatively little tuberculosis. Greatest plague: dietary diseases (scurvy and pellagra), resulting from lack of fresh meat and vegetables.”)

And while The Grapes of Wrath climbed to the top of the bestseller list, won the Pulitzer Prize, and became a “cornerstone of [Steinbeck’s] 1962 Nobel Prize,” according to the introduction to the Penguin Classics edition, TIME was similarly ambivalent about the merits of the book. In its review, TIME concludes:

The publishers believe it is “perhaps the greatest modern American novel, perhaps the greatest single creative work this country has ever produced.” It is not. But it is Steinbeck’s best novel… It is “great” in the way that Uncle Tom’s Cabin was great — because it is inspired propaganda, half tract, half human-interest story, emotionalizing a great theme.

Read the full review of The Grapes of Wrath, here in the TIME archives: Oakies

TIME weather

At Least 2 Dead After Illinois Tornado

Among the hardest-hit areas was the small farming community of Fairdale

(FAIRDALE, Ill.) — Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner confirms a second person has died in the northern Illinois community of Fairdale after tornadoes struck the region.

Rauner told reporters Friday in Flagg that two people had died. He was surveying damage in region.

Among the hardest-hit areas was the small farming community of Fairdale where one woman was killed. She was identified as 67-year-old Geraldine M. Schultz. Roughly a dozen other people were injured Thursday after at least one tornado swept through tiny Fairdale.

The second person has not been identified.

It’s an unincorporated town of about 150, about 80 miles northwest of Chicago.

TIME weather

Tornado Rips Through Illinois as Severe Weather Hits Midwest

Chicago was placed under a tornado watch for much of Thursday evening

A tornado damaged numerous homes Thursday night in northern Illinois, police told NBC News, as part of a storm system that was moving toward Chicago, which was under a tornado watch.

Police in Rochelle confirmed that the tornado left significant damage in Rochelle, Kings and Hillcrest. There was no immediate word on injuries.

The tornado crossed Interstate 39 several miles north of Rochelle, shortly after 7 p.m. (8 p.m. ET), according to The Weather Channel, which aired the incident live. It also hit Fairdale and damaged an undetermined number of structures northwest of Ashton…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC news

TIME weather

‘Extremely Dangerous’ Tornado Hits Iowa as Severe Weather Moves Across Midwest

Chicago is under tornado watch for much of the night

A “large and extremely dangerous tornado” touched down in eastern Iowa on Thursday evening, the National Weather Service reports, calling for Midwest communities to take caution as severe weather moved across the region.

The agency said the tornado was seen near Camanche at 6:45 p.m. ET and moving northeast at 40 mph. CNN reports the twister is one part of a severe weather system that could effect up to 95 million people on Thursday, notably in cities like St. Louis and Chicago.

The National Weather Service said Thursday that Chicago and much of central and northeastern Illinois would be under a tornado watch until 11 p.m. CT (midnight ET). A tornado was spotted earlier in the day in Illinois, and tornado watches are in effect for parts of nine other states, Weather.com reports.

TIME weather

Midwest Braces for Damaging Storms and Possibly Tornadoes

This NOAA satellite image shows an strong storm system over the upper Mississippi Valley with a warm front stretching across the Ohio Valley, southern Great Lakes and Mid Atlantic with heavy rain and locally strong thunderstorms.
AP This NOAA satellite image taken Thursday, April 09, 2015 at 09:45 AM EST shows an strong storm system over the upper Mississippi Valley with a warm front stretching across the Ohio Valley, southern Great Lakes and Mid Atlantic with heavy rain and locally strong thunderstorms. Behind the system, a mix of rain and snow moves across the central Plains and northern Great Lakes. Partly cloudy skies will give way to mostly sunny skies over the southeastern United States as a cold front moves eastward from the lower Mississippi Valley.(AP PHOTO/WEATHER UNDERGROUND)

The risk area runs from northeast Texas to Michigan

(ST. LOUIS)—A broad swath of the Midwest girded for hail, damaging winds and possibly tornadoes Thursday as a strong storm front continued to rumble east.

The National Weather Service’s “enhanced risk” area stretched from northeast Texas to Michigan, Wisconsin and across the upper Midwest. Forecasters say Philadelphia, Washington and other parts of the Atlantic coast could see the same weather patterns Friday, including Augusta, Georgia, where the Masters golf tournament is taking place through the weekend.

“It’s quite an expansive area,” said Greg Carbin, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma.

In Wisconsin, an interstate north of Milwaukee was closed for several hours Thursday morning after several vehicles became partially submerged in flood water due to heavy rain.

Tornadoes were reported Wednesday and early Thursday in Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma, but those areas saw minimal damage from the year’s first widespread bout of severe weather.

In central Indiana, a 75-year-old woman died Wednesday night after being swept into a rain-swollen creek near Indianapolis. Pittsboro Fire Chief Bill Zeunik said the woman, identified as Doris D. Martin, was clearing debris from a water-filled ditch in her front yard along with her husband when she fell in and was swept away into a drainage pipe. Martin’s body was found in a creek nearly one mile away.

TIME weather

Supercell Storms Rip Through Midwest as They Head East

Severe storm shown on radar at 7:45pm moving into west central Oklahoma on April 8, 2015.
National Weather Service Severe storm shown on radar at 7:45pm moving into west central Oklahoma on April 8, 2015.

"There'll be a lot of supercells"

As many as 30 million people were in the path of the spring’s biggest storm yet — a monster stretching Wednesday from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada and east to the Atlantic Ocean, which was already dropping giant hail on parts of the Midwest and threatened the greatest likelihood of tornadoes anywhere in the country.

Brief tornado warnings dotted Missouri and Indiana as the system began coalescing into what meteorologists call “supercells” — intense thunderstorms buoyed by cyclone-like rising winds. They’re the least common but most dangerous kind of thunderstorm, the National Weather Service said.

“There’ll be a lot of supercells,” said Ari Sarsalari, a meteorologist for The Weather Channel.

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME Environment

Here’s Why Allergy Season Might Be Especially Unpleasant This Spring

Pollen levels are going to be intense this month, experts warn

There’s one more downside to winters that seems to drag on: allergy season is intensified.

Tree pollen levels may reach unusually high levels in the coming weeks because persistent colder temperatures delayed some trees from pollinating last month, according to allergy experts. Since not all trees pollinate at the same time — maple, cedar and elm trees, for example, pollinate early — the delays result in a large amount of trees pollinating at once.

“You may even see clouds of pollen being released over the next several weeks, where there will be almost a green mist,” Dr. Leonard Bielory, an allergy specialist at the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, N.J., told CBS New York last week.

Experts say those living in the New England region — which saw its “last hurrah” winter storm in March — might want to pay particular attention to pollen levels, though any region that’s been slow to warm up this year may be affected.

“The general principle is the same: in the spring, wherever you are, whenever it becomes temperate, trees start to emit their pollen,” Dr. Rachel Miller, chief of pediatric allergy, immunology and rheumatology at Columbia University Medical Center, told TIME.

So what can you do to avoid the runny noses, itchy eyes and headaches? There are the classic over-the-counter allergy pills like Zyrtec and Claritin, but for those that suffer from more severe allergies, this spring might be the perfect time to finally get checked out.

“Certainly people can visit their allergists,” said Dr. Miller, “who can help make sure that they’re doing certain behaviors to try to minimize exposure when, say, they’re exercising or jogging in the park — as well as medical management, or possibly immunotherapy.”

 

TIME weather

Flood Sweeps Mother and Child Into Creek in Kentucky

Vehicles sit in high water after heavy rains caused flash flooding and forced some to leave their homes in Louisville
John Sommers—Reuters Vehicles sit in high water after heavy rains caused flash flooding and forced some to leave their homes in Louisville, KY, April 3, 2015.

Rescue workers were searching for the pair

(LOUISVILLE, Ky.)—Kentucky was swamped by wave after wave of heavy rain, unleashing flash flooding that swept a mother and child into a creek, stranded a school bus and forced more than 160 rescues in Louisville.

The rains started Thursday and continued Friday in portions of the Bluegrass state.

In Lee County, authorities searched for the mother and child swept away by rushing water on Friday as rescue workers were attempting a rescue, Kentucky State Police Trooper Robert Purdy said.

The two were stranded in their vehicle in high water Friday morning on an eastern Kentucky highway. Rescue workers lost sight of them about two hours later, Purdy said.

As rain pushed through parts of the South and Midwest, severe thunderstorms were also blamed for the death of a woman who was camping with her family at Natural Bridge State Resort Park in eastern Kentucky.

Meanwhile, thousands of people in south central Kansas lost power amid winds that reached nearly 90 mph downed trees and damaged buildings overnight and early Friday, and a possible tornado was being investigated in Oklahoma.

In Louisville, Simone Wester awoke Friday to the sight of boats carting away her neighbors.

“It looked like a hurricane struck, said Wester, whose apartment complex was surrounded by floodwaters, waist-deep in some places. “I didn’t know what to do.”

Wester, 20, and her 7-month-old son, Jeremiah, were rescued by a man who removed his socks and waded through the floodwaters toward her. The man, Kevin Mansfield, charted a navigable path and ushered her out of the flooding.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said more than 160 water rescues had been made.

In Powell County, Kentucky, Catherine Carlson, 45, was killed and her husband was injured when a large tree limb fell on their tent, said Coroner Hondo Hearne. Their three children didn’t appear to be injured, he said.

The campground where the family was staying was evacuated due to flash flooding, said Gil Lawson, a spokesman for the state Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet.

A northern Kentucky school bus with 16 students aboard was stranded for about three hours by floodwaters that covered roads to schools. The Grant County students and bus driver eventually climbed up an embankment next to the bus and walked about a half mile to higher ground, where they were picked up, said Nancy Howe, a school district spokeswoman.

In Kansas, no deaths were reported but six people were injured in a severe thunderstorm, emergency management officials said. Several buildings were damaged in Newton and the Jabara Airport in Wichita was closed Friday morning because of storm debris on the airfield.

In Oklahoma, the National Weather Service plans to send a survey team to Ottawa County to investigate reports of a tornado touchdown.

The possible tornado near Afton was part of a storm system that moved through northeastern Oklahoma and northwestern Arkansas late Thursday and early Friday.

Elsewhere, heavy rains that drenched parts of southern Indiana with nearly 4 inches of rain sparked flooding that trapped two truck drivers and a motorist in their vehicles Friday before emergency crews ferried them to dry ground.

In Kentucky, more than 6 inches of rain fell in Louisville, and Lexington had received more than 5 inches, he said.

Some cars were submerged by high water on roads next to the University of Louisville’s main campus, said school spokesman Mark Hebert. A few campus buildings had water in the basements, he said. Early classes were canceled Friday, but classes resumed by midmorning, he said.

Bill Mattingly, assistant chief of the Okolona Fire Protection District, said floodwaters started pouring into first-floor apartments overnight.

Jefferson County Public Schools in Louisville canceled classes Friday.

 

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