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   Undertoad  Wednesday Aug 21 01:15 PM

8/21/2002: Dust devils

They aren't mini vacuum cleaners and they aren't the little things you find under your bed. They are whirlwinds.

Somebody posted a really huge, really cool image of these three dust devils in a row, which I've brought down to size as you see - I didn't note where I got this one from, but I do remember that someone saw them while driving and got this great shot.

They only happen in the desert. The sun beats down and heats the ground. The ground warms up, but sometimes there's a dark surface that packs in the heat right next to a lighter surface which doesn't. The heat rises from these surfaces, but the hotter air rises faster - which can create a swirling region of wind, getting faster and faster over time until it can pick up dirt and sand.

The strange thing about this image is that the lack of perspective makes it impossible to figure out how huge these devils are. Somewhere between twice the height of a fence post and four times the height of a windmill?

goethean  Wednesday Aug 21 02:05 PM


They're frigging huge. That windmill's probably 2 stories. And I think that it looks like it's at the same depth as the devils.

hairdog  Wednesday Aug 21 02:28 PM

They happen only in the desert? I seem them all the time in the Kansas prairies between Topeka and the Colorado border. Especially in a dry year. But we can agree that they are awesome sights.

russotto  Thursday Aug 22 12:46 PM

In the city, there are "trash devils" sometimes. Usually pretty small, but I've seen some at least 6 feet high.

dasviper  Friday Aug 23 12:02 AM

At a Red Sox spring training game, I saw a Hat Devil. Picked this woman's hat off by the visiting dugout, toyed with it all across the infield, dropping it occasionally and going back to pick it up. The hat wound up behind the home dugout. Quite a show, stopped the game for a good minute. Very "American Beauty". Sox won, beat Orioles.

Lt  Friday Aug 23 01:06 AM

Baseball...pffffffffffttttt...I bet the wind did that out of boredom...almost as bad as's where it's at folks...a man's game :p

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