It was indeed a hot and humid weekend across the Tennessee Valley. We all experienced the summer-like temperatures but some across northern Alabama had the opportunity to experience a weather phenomenon. Some residents in the Florence and Russellville communities were able to experience a dust devil up close.
A dust devil can best be described as a dust-filled vortex that develops on fair weather days with light winds. The warm air we saw on Sunday heated the surface and as the warm air rose an area of low pressure formed at the surface. Just above the ground, the air was slightly cooler than the ground itself creating an unstable environment. As the air rapidly rises, the column stretches vertically. With continued heat, the circulation is able to sustain itself. Dust and dirt are picked up by the circulation and rotate from the ground to the sky. Damage from dust devils is rare and generally occurs with the strongest circulation.
The video above was shot by News 19 viewer Courtney Mahan. The dust devil developed Sunday afternoon at Veterans Park in Florence, AL. A 12U travel baseball team was practicing when it developed and Mahan says the boys loved the experience!
Tornado vs. Dust Devil
A dust devil and a tornado may look similar but there are some significant differences. Tornadoes are related to severe weather events while dust devils generally form on a fair-weather day. Unlike a tornado, the dust devil formation is based on surface heating. One final difference between the two is that a tornado forms in the sky and then extends to the ground while the dust devil moves upwards from the ground to the sky.
This second video was sent in by News 19 viewer Rodney Cox. This dust devil formed over a field in Russellville, AL.