What is a little dust tornado called?



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A dustdevil is a whirlwind of air into which dust and debris gets caught up, making it visible. Dust devils form through a different mechanism than tornadoes, and are much smaller, usually only 10 to 50 feet in diameter, and usually not extending more than 100 feet into the air.

Most dust devils are weak, but they can produce winds that exceed 80 mph and cause minor damage like an EF0 or EF1 tornado would… While 'dust devil' is the name you hear the most, some in California call them 'sand augers' or 'dust whirls'. In Australia, they're called 'willy-willies'.

According to the American Meteorological Society (AMS), a dust devil is defined as, “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.” A tornado, in turn, is defined as, “a rotating column of air, in contact ...

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