AUSTIN (KXAN) — An unusual sight was spotted in a dirt parking lot off of Rainey Street on Friday — a dust devil.
The video was shot and sent to KXAN by Derek Watson at a dirt parking lot off of Rainey Street in downtown Austin between The Quincy and the Fairmont Austin.
A dust devil, also called a Whirlwind, is a narrow column of rotating air that forms on a hot day with light winds. The light winds prevent mixing in the atmosphere and allow ground temperatures to warm much hotter than air just above the ground.
The difference in temperature causes rising motion, but that, alone, may not be enough to cause a dust devil. If you have different surface materials like dust, sand, concrete or asphalt within a short distance from one another, that difference in heating can be just enough to cause a vortex of rotating air that surges upward towards the relatively cooler air.
Dust devils can cause some damage, but most are harmless and brief.