Australian Weather Calendar: February 2016

February photograph by Jacob Elliot

Jacob Elliot was chasing a storm near Mt Bryan in South Australia, 7 January 2015, hoping to take some photos of the lightning. When he looked back towards Burra and saw a towering dust devil, his objective changed.

Dust devils, or willy-willies, are formed when a localised pocket of hot air rises quickly through cooler air above it. The rapidly rising air pocket is replaced by air rushing in below it. This inflowing air often arrives in an uneven manner and can start to rotate. As the air pocket continues to rise and stretch, the speed of rotation increases, in the same way as a twirling ballet dancer drawing in their arms and legs spins faster. In dry areas, dust is drawn into the rotating air column—giving dust devils their name and distinct appearance.

Jacob was using a Canon 600D with an EF-S 18–55 mm lens.