sand whirl

dust devils

Whirlwinds in which wind speeds are of of gale-force strength and in which surface dust is picked up and carried in dense columns of 5000 ft or more in height. They are formed as a result of the strong convection currents in the hot and dusty regions, such as deserts and other locations where the ground is very hot. Dust devils resemble tiny tornadoes, but they are caused by convective processes and produce significantly less damage than tornadoes. In many cases, they cause no damage of consequence. Also called a dust whirl or sand whirl.