A dust devil is a strong, well-formed, and relatively short-lived whirlwind, ranging from small (half a metre wide and a few metres tall) to large (more than 10 m wide and more than 1 km 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.
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.
KHRoN – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14943798
Texasbob – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19938610
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