As the ground heats up, the rising air can create a vortex that picks up the loose soils and whirls them into the air. A Tauranga man had a scary close encounter with a dust twister racing across a farm.
Jeremy Parslow was driving from Auckland to Tauranga when he saw the 20m-high dust devil in a paddock near Matamata about 2.15pm yesterday and captured it on film.
"It was quite close to the road and it was throwing around bits of wood and heaps of potatoes that had been ripped up from the ground. It was pretty big, I'd say about 15-20m long and it was really high, too," he said.
"It looked pretty powerful and everything was flying around ... the height it was moving things up was pretty impressive. Decent-sized bits of wood were being taken 20m up into the air." Mr Parslow said it could have damaged cars had it reached the road: "It was going through a paddock but it didn't appear to be moving, which is really weird ... it was cool and a bit scary too."
MetService duty forecaster Heath Gullery said there had been dust devils in the Waikato in the last few weeks.