Literally, out of the blue, a raging dust devil spun up on a softball diamond in Lynchburg, Va., Saturday.
The Lynchburg Hornets were battling the Bridgewater Eagles at Moon Field when the whirlwind suddenly emerged between the pitcher and second base.
Upon seeing the dust devil, the umpire stopped play. Several of the players nonchalantly stood still as the vortex passed within feet.
The players may have been unfazed by the spectacle, but ESPN commentators were shocked.
ESPN’s Sports Center featured the amazing clip in its “Best Available Video” segment. Anchor Scott Van Pelt and his producer, Steve Coughlin, also known as “Stanford Steve“, couldn’t believe what they were seeing. Here’s an amusing segment from their commentary:
Van Pelt: “I give [the players] credit. Everybody just hung out and didn’t get freaked out.”
Stanford Steve: “What would you do?”
Van Pelt: “That’s some kind of hell spawn. Man, look! And then it just evaporates. Oh, heck no. No, not me, Jack.”
Stanford Steve: “Did that really happen?”
Van Pelt: “The Lynchburg SID confirms it’s a real video. They say that’s for real. I don’t understand if it was or not.”
Stanford Steve: “What would you do? Run?”
Van Pelt: “No. What are you going to do? It’s a dirt tornado.”
Stanford Steve: “I can see you running, checking my phone, ‘How long is this going to last?'”
Van Pelt: “I would have been hysterical. We need Cantore to explain to me what that is.”
I’m not Cantore, but I can say without hesitation that it was your classic dust devil.
These whirlwinds form when the ground is heated up and the air aloft is cool and still. Rising and sinking air currents develop in response, forming a vertical convection cell. If horizontal winds start blowing through the cell, it turns it on its side and it starts spinning horizontally in a vertical column to form the dust devil.
Dust devils usually form on warm, sunny afternoons in dry, dusty and/or sandy areas. They’re usually weak compared with tornadoes and do little harm. Such was the case at Moon Field on Saturday.
But, occasionally, they grow large and violent and can cause damage and injuries.
More dust devils: