Tornado or wicked dust devil? It’s the question one Alberta woman asked herself after she captured video of a giant funnel in Airdrie Monday night.
Turns out, it was a large dust devil whipping its way across the ground at about 7 p.m. near the community of Windsong. The video was taken by Jennifer Beaton, who said she’d never seen such a big one.
WATCH: Fiery dust devil caught on video
“It was my husband who noticed it and he thought it was a dust wall,” Beaton said. “He thought it was pretty neat, and I was worried.”
While they could be mistaken for tornadoes in that they’re both rotating columns of wind, dust devils form under very different conditions than tornadoes. Dust devils never reach the same intensity, and don’t have the ability to become tornadoes.
READ MORE: The science behind tornadoes – what they are and how they form
WATCH: Alex Bull spotted this giant dust devil around 4:00pm on 17 Ave and 68 St. SE.
Global Calgary meteorologist Jordan Witzel said dust devils are common on warm, dry afternoons like Monday.
“They really are very common across the prairies and plains, only a little less common closer to Calgary. We just don’t always see the swirling wind unless it’s able to kick up some dust in its wake.”
But Beaton said she’s seen them before in Calgary.
“I have seen a few funnels in the last two years–the one that was over Calgary, and I have pictures as well of some forming right over our house last year,” Beaton said.
“I’m starting to think they’re following me.”
Dust Devil caught on camera in New Mexico