Weather with leaves

I’ve never seen a dust devil pick up vegetation like this, but I’m assured it’s not that uncommon in the southwest USA.  This video was filmed near Albuquerque, New Mexico last week. The plants are tumbleweeds.

I wonder if those plants scratch cars’ paintwork?  Or are they soft enough not to matter? If anyone knows, please tell us in Comments.



  1. The stems of the bigger ones might scratch the paint if the wind is fast enough, but I doubt the rest of the tumbleweed would do any damage. AS a kid growing up in West Texas, we used to grab an old newspaper or some light material and run into the core of a dust devil and let it go. Sometimes they were big enough to carry it up pretty high in the air before it died.

  2. When I was in SOCAL folks acted like it would ruin their paint job.
    I had a rental a drove right through them and didn't notice anything.


  3. I would worry about the dirt coming along with the tumbleweeds more. My standards for paint weren't very high when I was in that area.

  4. That is a lot of UFO's flying about in that video.
    Just don't run into this with a motorcycle.
    Not any fun at all.

  5. I have seen a car stripped to bare metal by sandstorms in the Mojave, but that was in the 60's….a lot of sand in tumbleweeds, so I'd expect it to be abrasive; how much may depend on the violence and duration of the storm.

  6. As a Brit my first sighting of a tumbleweed when in America was something of a revelation….after a childhood of john Wayne films…they were real!

  7. I recall that in certain parts of the southwest it was expected to have to replace your windshield every few years as the sand content would turn if from clear to frosted. And at that time, some 40 years ago, cheap auto paint shops seemed to be very popular as well.

  8. Another note, be sure you pull your wiper blades off the glass when you clean the windshield at the gas station (at every fill-up). Most cars have hinged arms now. Clean under them very well, otherwise, you'll scratch your windows up when you turn them on. That first dry movement is murder on the glass.

    And when it's blowing hard, hold on to your car door when you open it. I've had a few cars that the door was sprung when the wind ripped it out of my grasp. Older cars seemed to handle it better.

    Welcome to West Texas! Land of the sandblast.

  9. I saw stuff like this growing up in Arizona. The sand stripping paint of cars over time was pretty much the norm. It wasn't just dust devils. It was the sandstorms.

    I also remember hanging burlap covered bags over the front of the car to provide extra cooling to the radiator as the water in them evaporated.

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