Thursday, September 08, 2005

DUST DEVILS on the way back from CA

It looks like a tornado if you have never seen one but this is only a dust devil. Dust devils can get large enough to do serious damage, but very rarely. Most of the time they just produce and impressive display of dust in funnels that can go to the clouds--and watch out- fences near these things are electrified with enough static electricity to throw you several feet in the air! I captured these farmer's pests while I was on the train coming back from my trip to CA. It is every photographer's nightmare to try to shoot from something moving at 70 miles an hour--but I did my best with all manual settings and a short enough shutter lag.

Here are two of them, there were as many as three. They whip dust around at high
speeds and when they get this big I would not recommend getting close to them. Although
they are not tornadoes--they can do everything from generate high voltages to seriously
burn your skin and eyes with all the dust. Winds in these things as you can see can be
very fast and in rare cases large objects can be picked up and even homes seriously
damage by the bigger ones. They touch down anywhere the air temperatures are
right--and could happen anywhere in the USA. Mostly flat cropland makes for the
right conditions. But once I got caught up in one when I was a kid up picking blueberries
in a very odd place near a local mountain. When I got into it dust went into my eyes
and every part of my cloths--it was loud-and a bit scary. Since then I've been through
a class 4 hurricane and several tropical storms, but this first experience with fast winds
and stuff left an imprint even when I was very young. Wondering what the heck all
those leaves and dust were doing. Notice the telephone poles--some of these suckers
really get big.

This is as close my train came to one. Of corse the nearly bullet-proof glass on the
train made it invincible to even the worst of these things and the junk they can
pickup. But recently I heard a story about one that touched down just outside of
Portland and tore off part of a roof as well as did other serious damage that
could have been deadly. They are not tornados however and the quickest way
to tell is not only the size but the fact that they do not connect to the clouds. Showing
there size is truly not like that of a tornado. I'm not pretending to be a meteorologist
but I believe there are some differences in them which classify exactly why they don't
become tornados and stuff. Maybe they do when there are thunder clouds? I doubt
it. It's complex weather stuff I don't know jack about. Just that they both have something
to do with rising temperatures and the pressure difference between hot and cool air.
Heat rising quickly and stuff.


kalisekj said...

Cool Blog, I never really thought about it that way.

I have a Hurricane Katrina blog. It pretty much covers hurricane related stuff.

Thank you - and keep up the thoughts!

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