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Footage shows California town completely engulfed by massive tumbleweeds: 'They're basically barbed wire'

"When I moved to the Central Valley, I was given so many horror stories."

Californians were recently treated to a real-life alternate version of the iconic image of a single tumbleweed rolling across an empty landscape.

Photo Credit: Reddit

Fans of Westerns are familiar with the iconic image of a single tumbleweed rolling across an empty landscape. Californians were recently treated to a less iconic version of that image in real life, as massive swarms of tumbleweeds were blown all over the place — across roadways and through towns — forcing residents to seek shelter indoors.

Footage of the tumbleweed storm was captured on video and then posted to the r/oddlysatisfying subreddit.

Whether the footage is oddly satisfying is up for debate, but it was certainly not satisfying for those who had to deal with the large balls of thistle while trying to go about their normal business.

Tumbleweeds, despite their strong association with the American West, are actually an invasive plant species, classified as a noxious weed. Salsola tragus, also known as Kali tragus, or prickly Russian thistle, first made its way to the United States in the late 19th century, quickly spreading and becoming the fastest plant invasion in the history of the country.

According to the North American Invasive Species Management Association, the warming of our planet often exacerbates the growth and success of invasive species, which in turn can further contribute to climate change: "Under higher CO2 levels, plants often grow faster and larger. Research has shown that under the same conditions, invasive plants are able to more effectively utilize the increased CO2 when compared to native plants, and are therefore able to outcompete native species. Warmer temperatures and drought result in more stressed trees and more abundant pests. As cities and natural habitats become hotter and drier, insects that take advantage of stressed trees may become more abundant."

And when it comes to carbon sequestration, tumbleweeds may capture plenty in short order, but their lifespan (typically one year) is short enough and their makeup brittle and flammable enough that the carbon capturing is generally ineffective unless the plants are buried when they die. On the other hand, tumbleweeds are at least an important food source for a number of animals living in arid conditions.

But as displayed in the video, tumbleweeds can be very dangerous to drivers, as they can be blown in front of cars and cause accidents. They also pose an increasing danger as wildfires become more frequent and intense — since they are highly flammable and blow wherever the wind takes them, they can spread fires that would otherwise be contained.

The other members of the r/oddlysatisfying subreddit were not all oddly satisfied by the invasion.

"Anyone saying this is oddly satisfying hasn't seen the damage of accidentally running over a big one and getting it all up in the engine. I luckily have not, but when I moved to the Central Valley, I was given SO many horror stories," one commenter wrote.

"They're basically barbed wire balls," another said

"Flammable barbed wire balls," a third commenter added.

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