An Oregon woman driving home with her children in the western part of the state had her own Twister-style storm-chasing experience when a dust devil picked up on the other side of the road. As it picked up speed, it whipped up hay and moved closer to the vehicle, reportedly shaking the family’s car. Incredibly, she managed to film it as they drove by – and through – it.
Jennifer Scott posted the 41-second clip you to YouTube, which shows the vehicle approaching the whimsical looking flurry of wind as it picks up hay so turbulent even Dorothy would want to tap her glittery red heels wishing for home.
In the video, Scott is heard asking her children if she should continue driving and they answer with a resounding “yes!”
“We were inside of it,” one of them is heard saying.
“We were totally inside of it,” Scott responded.
Although the small twister has been dubbed a “haynado,” it is actually a small whirlwind, or air vortex, known as a dust devil. As winds pick up speed, nearby dust, dirt, debris, and in this case hay, come along for the ride.
Conditions have to be just right in order for a dust devil to occur, according to Scientific American.
“On a hot, still day, certain parts of the ground will heat up more than others. One example of this is asphalt being hotter than grass,” meteorologist Matt Gray told IFLScience. “Over a hot spot, that relatively hotter air will begin to rise and cooler air from around this hot spot will rush in to take the place of the rising air. If this becomes a perfectly balanced interaction you can get a stable vortex.”
“Since this happens quite a bit in places with hot still weather like deserts, these vortices tend to pick up a lot of dust, which is why we generally call them dust devils. In the case of this Oregon video, what happened to be around when the vortex formed was the hay rather than dust,” Gray said.
Dust devils range anywhere from 3-40 meters (10-130 feet) wide with an average height of 200 meters (650 feet), are quite common, and aren’t actually dangerous the vast majority of the time, according to the American Meteorological Society.
Tornadoes, on the other hand, can be much more powerful and consequently even more dangerous. These disastrous twisters are formed by a thunderstorm when a rapidly rotating column of air extends from the storm above to the ground below, destroying whatever lies in its path.
Fortunately for Scott and her family, this haynado was nothing more than a fun experience shared with the Internet.