Home SCIENCE What Happens When A Dust Devil Moves Over Water?

What Happens When A Dust Devil Moves Over Water?

A dust devil is a strong, well-formed, and relatively long-lived whirlwind, ranging from small half a meter wide and a few meters tall to large more than 10 meters wide and more than 1000 meters tall. The primary vertical motion is upward. Dust devils are usually harmless, but can on rare occasions grow large enough to pose a threat to both people and property.

image credit: Science Channel 

They are comparable to tornadoes in that both are a weather phenomenon involving a vertically oriented rotating column of wind. Most tornadoes are associated with a larger parent circulation, the mesocyclone on the back of a supercell thunderstorm. Dust devils form as a swirling updraft under sunny conditions during fair weather, rarely coming close to the intensity of a tornado.

When hot air collides near the surface of the ground and rises rapidly upwards into a low pressure that lies above, a dust devil is formed. With the right conditions applied, the air then begins to rotate intently.


As the air continues to rise with great speed it is pulled upwards causing the spinning effect of the two air pressures to become even more colossal and immense ; the spinning rotates at a much faster rate.

With the spinning motion rotating faster the dust devil causes more hot air to form which is made to flow horizontally at a hasty pace to the bottom of the newly forming whirlpool. As more hot air tears inwards to the emerging whirlpool it substitutes the air that is escalating upwards. This results in the spinning rotation becoming yet more powerful and vigorous, which starts to cause concern for destruction of people and their assets.