Dust devil

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dust devil

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.

Dust devils occasionally are strong enough to cause minor damage (up to F1 on the Fujita scale). Diameters range from about 3 m to greater than 30 m; their average height is about 200 m, but a few have been observed as high as 1 km or more. They have been observed to rotate anticyclonically as well as cyclonically. Although the vertical velocity is predominantly upward, the flow along the axis of large dust devils may be downward. Large dust devils may also contain secondary vortices. Dust devils are best developed on a hot, calm afternoon with clear skies, in a dry region when intense surface heating causes a very steep lapse rate of temperature in the lowest 100 m of the atmosphere.

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