We were watching one of the Science channel shows the other day and there was discussion of sand storms. Having lived in West Texas for three years, hard wind and dust devils were fairly common. Having grown up in the Deep South, tornadoes were common and in fact, I had a car damaged once when serious hail was dumped by a tornado that fortunately didn’t tear too much up. When we were in Desert Storm, sand storms took on a whole new meaning. Watching a towering “devil” in the distance would definitely get your attention. When a storm hit though, it tended to do so with little warning. We never had the prolonged ones so there weren’t mounds of sand to dig out from, but the wind was ferocious. There were times when large tents would be yanked out of the pegs and basically twisted or collapsed inward. And of course, you’d be brushing sand out of all kinds of places for quite some time.
Another aspect was issues driving because most of the bases set up were not on roads and despite the lack of elevation, flat didn’t mean without “bumps”. The way the sand shifted around, even if the sand was flat rather than rippled, that didn’t mean it was solid. The command had to issue an order for the HMMVs (Hummers) to be restricted to 45 miles per hour cross-country because of so many over-turns when drivers hit an unstable surface at too high a speed. The vehicles are designed to manage all sorts of terrain, but driven in a controlled fashion.
The sand also retained a fair amount of heat and that was why cots were used as opposed to the standard of just putting sleeping bags on the ground. The several inches of clearance between the sand and the bottom of the cot made a major difference in the ability to sleep. Interesting memories of all that.