|Dust Devils Cause Damage in Las Vegas|
May 9, 2012
By WeatherBug Sr. Meteorologist, James West
|The roulette wheel wasn`t the only thing spinning in Vegas earlier this week. Rare damage was caused by a trifecta of dust devils. |
The dust devils formed over eastern Las Vegas Monday afternoon, causing damage to homes and businesses. No injuries were reported.
What`s a dust devil? It`s a narrow rotating column of air in clear weather created when a heated patch of ground warms the air above it. The warm air rises and under certain conditions, a narrow vortex forms with winds that normally reach up to 40 mph. These vortices tend to form in flat, barren, desert terrain away from development. They look like skinnier, dusty tornadoes and generally don`t cause damage or injury, but these dust devils were unusual.
The dust devils formed in urban Las Vegas and had winds estimated to be up to 60 mph. One dust devil hit a La Costa Grill restaurant which resulted in a large ceramic fountain being toppled, tiles blown off the side of the building, and a collapsed awning.
Another moved across the parking lot of a strip mall where it uprooted trees and tore off part of a store roof. Along with that, the roof of a nearby apartment complex was also damaged.
Several other destructive dust devils have been noted over the last 20 years in the greater Las Vegas area, including one that ripped through a mobile home park causing $5,000 in damage in 1996. More recently, another dust devil blew a panel into a power transmission line resulting in 10,000 customers losing power.
For more information about the Vegas Dust Devil, here is the National Weather Service Las Vegas office`s assessment.
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Story image: Damage to the La Costa Grill from a dust devil. Photo credit: NWS Las Vegas
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