Ask a Meteorologist: 'Dust devils' - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Ask a Meteorologist: 'Dust devils'

Charles from Rio asks: What causes "Dust Devils"?

Answer: Thank you for your question. A "dust devil" forms when a pool of hot air near a dry surface begins to rise, and as it does, it rises through an area of cooler air. As the hotter, less dense air continues to rise through the cooler, more dense air, it may begin to rotate. The conservation of angular momentum causes this column to stretch as it ascends, which causes the rotation to increase. Other hot air then may begin to converge near the surface, continue to rise in the vortex, and further develop the rotation. This is somewhat of a "chimney" effect. This rotation becomes visible when surface dirt or dust gets cause in the vortex, causing the "dust devil"

--Evan Hutchinson

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