‘Oh my God!’: Meteorologist finds himself inside dust devil in Arizona

Dust devils are dust-filled vortices that are usually smaller and less intense than a tornado, according to the National Weather Service.

TUCSON, Ariz. – Footage shot by Arizona meteorologist Tyler Maio on Friday shows a dust devil swirling nearby and then heading straight toward him.

The incident occurred by Silverbell Lake in northwest Tucson, where Maio was out fishing on a clear, sunny day.

The video opens up with the vortex spinning up near a tree and a few bystanders. Then, the dust devil heads toward Maio, who had taken out his phone to film the weather event. 

Within seconds, he finds himself inside the dust devil.

"Oh my god!" he said in the video as he was surrounded by a whirlwind of light brown dust.

He said dust covered his body and eyes, which he had to wash out with a bottle of water. His fishing rod, he noted, was not blown away, but his chair was thrown about 20 yards.

"It was just wild," Maio said. "As a meteorologist myself, I've experienced thunderstorms, rain. I have never experienced something like that. That was very intense and pretty crazy."


Often confused with tornadoes, dust devils are dust-filled vortices that are usually smaller and less intense than their tornadic cousins, according to the National Weather Service.

Dust devils typically form in fair weather on sunny and hot days with light winds, said FOX Weather senior meteorologist Scott Sistek. Intense heating along the ground causes a vast difference in temperature within a few hundred feet. The heated air, now quite buoyant, will shoot upward, with surface winds providing some spin. Sistek noted that dust devils usually only last for a few minutes and rarely cause damage, as their wind speeds are quite low.


As Maio has seen first-hand, some dust devils can be intense

While the weather events cannot be predicted, Maio recommended that anyone who might find themselves inside a dust devil hunker down, kneeling low to the ground and covering their head for protection.