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Dust Devils in the Southern Valley - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Dust Devils in the Southern Valley

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Two dust devils swirl over a field near Walcott, ND. One weakens (right), while another develops (left). Two dust devils swirl over a field near Walcott, ND. One weakens (right), while another develops (left).
Close-up of one of the dust devils east of Walcott, ND Close-up of one of the dust devils east of Walcott, ND
Double whirlwinds caused a double take Wednesday afternoon. Shawn Paczkowski was driving a tractor in a field east of Walcott, ND around 2 p.m. when he noticed dirt swirling over a field. Based on Shawn's report and weather conditions as the time, it was likely a dust devil. Dust devils can look like tornadoes at first glance, but these circulations are much weaker and form through a different process.

Dust devils don't descend out of storm clouds. In fact, sunny skies are often associated with these whirlwinds. They're most common in the Desert Southwest, but even here in the Upper Midwest dust devils can form. All it takes is some rapidly heating air near the surface in a cooler environment, and a touch of twist. In this case, the dark dirt of the field likely heated rapidly with the day's sunshine, and as that hot air rose, it started to spin.

Shawn says the first dust devil last for 10 minutes. Then, a second one formed as the first weakened. He shared a picture of both circulations with us along with a close up of one of the whirlwinds. No damage was reported.
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