Gustnado fools people into thinking they saw tornadoPosted: Updated:
SAN TAN VALLEY, Ariz. -- Wednesday's storms brought a wall of dust, small hail, strong winds and even some Valley rain. But it also brought a rare weather feature that fooled some folks into thinking they'd spotted a tornado.
A gustnado is a rotating cloud that can form during a thunderstorm, but it's much different than a tornado.
Unlike a tornado that spins down from a cloud, a gustnado spins up from the ground. It's caused by the outflow, or strong downdraft from a thunderstorm that spins up a rotating column of air.
Most gustnadoes don't have winds as strong as a tornado, and most only last a few seconds to a few minutes.
Gustnadoes form at the leading edge of gust fronts, fronts that sometimes also cause dust storms.
That was the case yesterday, when storm-chaser and photographer Mike Olbinski caught some gustnadoes on camera while shooting a dust storm in the southeast Valley.