Peoria, ILL.- WMBD

Dust devils are typically synonymous with dry and arid regions. In Central Illinois however, dust devils can develop under the right conditions.

So what is a dust devil and how do they develop? A dust devil is a brief, small whirlwind that develops when air is rapidly heating. This typically happens in the early afternoon. The development is also very similar to the how a tornado forms, without the destructive winds.

During the early afternoon is when the temperatures increase near the surface tends to be the quickest. As the sun heats the air above the ground, it rapidly rises and leaves a void near the surface. This void becomes an area of low pressure that air rushes into fill. The sudden rising of hotter air creates a vortex of spinning air that’s oriented horizontally. Over time this horizontal vortex can tilt to vertical. Once there is a vertical vortex, this is when dust and debris can get caught up in the spin, making what we know as a dust devil become visible.

Dust devils may look similar to tornadoes, but the winds aren’t as strong. Typically there isn’t any damage that comes from these, but weaker structures or outdoor furniture can get tossed around.