With light winds and bright sun producing heat, the warm season is the time of year when it’s not unusual to see dust devils or dust whirls. They are more common around dry farm fields with loose soil. You can also see them on the side of the road on dusty parking lots.

That’s what people noticed on Tanner Williams Road in Semmes, Alabama on May 5, 2018- a dust whirl that might have had a little help in starting by the wind from passing vehicles. Even without that, a dust devil can start from just rising hot air that converges from multiple directions and then slowly begins to rotate on a day with little wind.

They can rotate either clockwise or counter-clockwise, depending on how they start. While dust whirls look like miniature tornadoes, they have no storm cloud above them.