Humanity’s run as the dominant force on the Earth nearly came to an end on Tuesday, when a tumbleweed uprising gave the 120,000 residents of Victorville, California quite a scare.
Stirred by swift winds and a desire to unleash great vengeance and furious anger, tumbleweed poured into the city for a battle royale. The dead, prickly plants pinwheeled down streets, covered cars and stacked up to the second story of houses.
Panicked residents called the city. Then they called 911. No word on if the National Guard was needed.
“It seems like every time we get the tumbleweeds cleared up, the wind blows and blows them right back again,” Bryan Bagwell, a local real estate broker, told the Washington Post. “It’s a nasty nightmare.”
Tumbleweed are the remnants of plants but are usually Russian thistle, an invasive that first appeared in the U.S. in the late 1800s. The plants have since spread across the West, and when they get uprooted or die, they can get swept up by the wind. Fences are usually enough to stop their wind-driven rampage, but they couldn’t hold back this pack of wild weeds.
In the end, the onslaught was thwarted, and cleanup has begun. Firefighters, town public works’ employees, and a waste management company are doing the heavy lifting and taking tumbleweeds outside the city’s limits.
“Yesterday I can’t even stand here in my garage,” resident Nav Mangat told the local ABC affiliate. “There was like a hundred of these bushes. They were just flowing like it was a tornado yesterday.”
With winds expected to pick up again later this week, residents are already bracing for another assault. Here’s hoping they hold the line.