dust devil

Dust Devil

Photo: NASA

SPOKANE - Dust devils are becoming more frequent as the weather warms up in north central Washington. However, as harmless as these light cyclonic displays may seem, weather experts advise that you not throw ‘caution to the wind’ if you cross paths with one.

Recently in Virginia, the National Weather Service in Baltimore confirmed that a dog weighing about 70 pounds went airborne for a second when it got caught up in one rolling through a neighborhood in Virginia.

iFIBER ONE News reached out to meteorologists at the National Weather Service office in Spokane on Monday. Meteorologist Miranda Cote says dust devils form when there’s hot air near the earth’s surface and that warm air rises rapidly into cooler air above. Cote says dust devils form in areas that are dry with flat and barren terrain.  

“The more hot air gets rushed in, the stronger it is,” Cote told iFIBER ONE News.

Cote says some of the strongest dust devils are equivalent to the power of an EF-0 tornado and can contain winds of up to 75 mph.

Cote confirmed that some are capable of picking up objects weighing over 100 pounds and are capable of destroying frail structures. 

Dust devils typically occur from late spring through the early fall.