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Tumbleweeds began invading neighborhoods in Colorado last week
The dried plants are piling up in doorways and driveways, residents say
High winds are being blamed for the large number of tumbleweeds
This isn’t your classic Western movie where you’ll find a solitary tumbleweed rolling through a desolate landscape.
These are neighborhoods around Colorado Springs, where a strange takeover of tumbleweeds started last week. The clusters of twisted foliage are causing a lot of problems, says Mahkya Askew, a resident of Colorado Springs.
Askew was driving with his father, who is visiting from the East Coast, when they came across a large pileup of tumbleweeds in his neighborhood.
“It looked like a scene from the ‘Wizard of Oz,’” he said.
Askew, who works for the U.S. military, has been living in the area for 14 years and said he has never seen tumbleweeds like this before.
“They usually collect on the side of my yard, but lately they’ve been piling up on top of each other, and they can get as tall as a six-foot tall fence,” he explained.
Unusually high winds are blamed for the influx of tumbleweeds into neighborhoods south of Colorado Springs, according to CNN’s affiliate KCNC-TV.
Askew said they’ve definitely become a nuisance for him and others in his area. “I don’t even know what they are or what they break off from,” he said.
Tumbleweeds can be any sort of dried up plant that, once matured, breaks off from its roots and tumbles away with the wind.
They have collected against people’s homes, forming makeshift walls and blocking sidewalks and driveways. Colorado residents are using rakes and even snowplows to clean up these pesky, dried plants, especially because they can pose a fire hazard during dry conditions.
Whitney Grant, 27, also a Colorado Springs resident, says tumbleweeds are a familiar sight. But she was surprised to find them barricading people inside their homes and even finding their way inside buildings. She and her daughter found a straggling tumbleweed inside a local Walmart over the weekend, in the electronics aisle.
Grant said her daughter, who is 3, knew that tumbleweed didn’t belong indoors. “She said, ‘Look mommy!’ And she looked at me like she wanted me to fix the situation.”
“My friends who visit are always shocked to see them,” she said. “There was someone who left their garage open (on Friday), and it was filled with them,” she said.
As funny as this may all sound, Askew said that the tumbleweed situation has gotten pretty serious. “It becomes a problem as you are driving; they can scratch your car. They can get stuck under your car, too, and you can hear it dragging underneath you,” he said.
An active runner, he’s found himself in the past few days having to jump over tumbleweeds more than a foot tall.
“They can be huge, and they are really prickly,” he said.
“I’m from the East, so when my family comes to visit me, they get a crack out of this. It’s like a Western movie, but it is really bad.”