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Dust Devil


Definition: Dust devils are small-scale rotations on the ground not associated with severe weather or tornado-producing thunderstorms. The swirling air is made visible by dust or dirt on the ground which means that they are more common in areas with loose dirt or sand. As the ground heats up in hot areas of the United States and abroad, the rising air can create a vortex that picks up the loose soils and whirls them into the air. This convection will lead to the formation of a slow moving and usually harmless swirls of moving air. While some dust devils can cause minor damage, most are just an interesting convective process of the weather typical in hot and arid climates.

AMS glossary

Also Known As: Dust-nado, Dustnadoes, Dirt Devil, Dust Whirl, dancing dervish, dancing devil, shaitan, desert devil, sand auger, sand devil
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