What Is A Dust Devil?

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By By Steve Pool

SEATTLE - If you've ever driven in Eastern Washington on a warm, sunny day, and noticed what look like little tornadoes dancing around in the fields, those are known as dust devils.

Most commonly seen in flat, dry areas dust devils are like "mini tornadoes", only they're harmless. They're caused when you have hot air suddenly rising from warm ground. As this air rises, it can sometimes create a little vortex of swirling air, which can pick up nearby dust and dirt, giving it a brown tornado-like appearance.

Yet, unlike tornadoes, dust devils form from the ground up and its winds rarely reach over 30-60 mph, so they aren't damaging. However, if you get caught in one, you'll likely get a mouth and nose-full of dust.

Your Photos

YouNews Sunday Images Sunday Images
These images were taken Sunday, December 14 with a Nikon D3100 and an Explore Scientific ED127 (Moon) and ED80 (M42
and M31).
YouNews Weekend Sky Weekend Sky
The images of M42 (Orion) and M31 (Andromeda) are short
stacks (lights only) taken Sunday evening with an Explore
Scientific ED80 (wide angle) telescope and a Nikon D3100 DSLR. The image of the moon was taken with an Explore Scientific ED127 (5-inch) refractor.