PASADENA,CA-Swirling winds swept canopies and furniture twenty to thirty feet in the air in a scene reminiscent of a tornado suspense film. But did a tornado touch down a few hundred feet from where the Rose Bowl was being played?
It was a dust devil, a common occurrence from California to the mid-west. While a dust devil has similarities to a tornado, it is not a tornado.
WIKIPEDIA: A dust devil is a strong, well-formed, and relatively long-lived whirlwind, ranging from small (half a meter wide and a few meters tall) to large (more than 10 meters wide and more than 1000 meters tall). The primary vertical motion is upward. Dust devils are usually harmless, but can on rare occasions grow large enough to pose a threat to both people and property. They are comparable to tornadoes in that both are a weather phenomenon of a vertically oriented rotating column of air. Most tornadoes are associated with a larger parent circulation, the mesocyclone on the back of a supercell thunderstorm. Dust devils form as a swirling updraft under sunny conditions during fair weather, rarely coming close to the intensity of a tornado.