LYNCHBURG COLLEGE (WDBJ7) It was a dry, warm Saturday afternoon as Lynchburg College was taking on Bridgewater in a doubleheader softball game.
A dust devil forms during the middle of a Lynchburg College softball game against Bridgewater
Near the start of the second game, players and fans were greeted to a giant dust devil that developed in a matter of seconds.
Dust devils are a common, but rarely around here do we see them that big.
Cameramen Terry Clay and Douglas Hines were taping the game for the Lynchburg Hornets Sports Network when the dust devil touched down. They captured the fans' reaction, which was one of awe.
As fast as it developed, it lifted and the game continued. Video shows it on the ground for around 30 seconds.
ARE DUST DEVILS COMMON?
You often see dust devils on dry, warm days. They often are much smaller around here and lift dust and leaves into the air. Some of the stronger ones can pick-up tents and toss them around. That has happened at a festival or two in recent years. The WDBJ7 Weather Center also got a video of a dust devil entering a pond in Martinsville back in March, which formed a waterspout.
WHAT CAUSES THEM?
To get a dust devil, you'll typically need a warm day, with light to calm winds, and low humidity. Unlike a tornado, dust devils are not connected to a cloud. They typically form in clear or partly cloudy skies. Warm air near the surface rises quickly through a small pocket of cooler air above it. If conditions are just right, the air may begin to rotate. The circulation can occur and you wouldn't even know it until it touched the ground and began picking up dirt and other debris.
ARE THEY LIKE TORNADOES?
While the air is circulating, it technically isn't a tornado because the funnel isn't attached to a cloud. This means dust devils are much weaker than tornadoes, On average, maximum winds average around 45 miles per hour, and they often dissipate less than a minute after forming.
Dust devils out west can be much larger, spanning 300 feet or more, and having winds of more than 60 miles per hour.