People in Oistins, Christ Church were startled this afternoon as they noticed a whirling column of dust in the sky.
Some shouted “tornado” as they looked on in disbelief while staying clear of the unusual phenomenon.
However, the Barbados Meteorological Services (BMS) said the weather event that was captured on video and widely shared on social media was actually not a tornado.
“We have seen the video that is currently circulating and the evidence that we see is that it seems to have the appearance more so of a dust devil as opposed to a tornado,” explained forecaster on duty, Allan McDowell.
“The major difference between those is that is that dust devils typically originate from the ground, and it is usually due to intense heating of the surface area causing a small area of low pressure. You get the winds rising and forming that little circulation, similar in appearance to a tornado.”
A tornado, on the other hand, he said, “typically originates from clouds in the sky and sometimes it can reach down and touch the ground but not always”.
“From the video, it seems like that phenomenon was something that was taking place close to the ground, because as it was dissipating there were no remnants of it originating from the cloud above,” McDowell added.
Though the forecaster could not say how often dust devils occur, he issued a word of caution: “You definitely just want to stay away from it because it can lift debris, so you should still take caution when you see that sort of phenomena going on.”