whirlwind, revolving mass of air resulting from local atmospheric instability, such as that caused by intense heating of the ground by the sun on a hot summer day. Examples of whirlwinds are waterspouts , tornadoes , small whirls of dust or leaves, and the sand whirls of the desert, called dust devils or dust whirls.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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