Dust devils are not all that rare, but it is unusual for one to cause damage to property! One of our pals Karl Schneider (future meteorologist – remember that name) sent us some video of a dust devil damaging a truck in the parking lot of Eager Beaver Tree Service in Harvest last Friday:
There have been a hand full of reports of injuries or fatalities with dust devils over the years; one of the more recent ones happened in 2008 in Wyoming: Powerful Dust Devil Suspected in Death.
From the American Meteorological Society:
DUST DEVIL: A well-developed dust whirl; a small but vigorous whirlwind, usually of short duration, rendered visible by dust, sand, and debris picked up from the ground.
Dust devils are occasionally strong enough to cause minor damage (up to EF0 on the Enhanced Fujita scale). Diameters range from about 3 m to greater than 30 m; their average height is about 200 m, but a few have been observed as high as 1 km or more. They have been observed to rotate anticyclonically as well as cyclonically. Although the vertical velocity is predominantly upward, the flow along the axis of large dust devils may be downward. Large dust devils may also contain secondary vortices. Dust devils are best developed on a hot, calm afternoon with clear skies, in a dry region when intense surface heating causes a very steep lapse rate of temperature in the lowest 100 m of the atmosphere.
With more very hot, very dry weather on the way, there will likely be more dust devils around the Tennessee Valley through the next two weeks! Get the full story on the heat on WHNT.com's Forecast Page.