A dramatic video capturing what appeared to be a tornado touching down near Balzac on Monday afternoon, may in fact have been a dust devil.
Rob Griffith, a lead meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada said that the agency can't be 100 per cent sure, considering they are also analyzing information based on the singular video. But he did say that it appears as though the top of the circulation is not in contact with the convective cloud base, lending more credence to the theory that it was a dust devil.
"Dust devils are formed by a pocket of hot air that goes upwards and ends up rotating. They are generally not likely to cause damage, but that's not always the case," he said. "Of course, any whirlwind or circulation like that could damage infrastructure, buildings or hurt people. However, tornadoes are caused by severe thunderstorms. Generally, the tornado would be attached to the convective cloud, more likely to be stronger and cause damage. While a funnel cloud is, similar, but not touching the ground."
Griffith underlines that severe thunderstorms can produce tornado activity, but there need to be certain conditions in the atmosphere to generate a tornado. He said that it is difficult for forecasting models to predict tornadoes as the events are sudden.
Last year, Alberta saw eight tornados.
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