NEW YORK (WSYR-TV) — What looks like miniature tornadoes and are somewhat fascinating to watch, “Dust Devils” have been spotted around New York state recently, sparking a number of people asking, “What is that?”

Dust devils are a common wind phenomenon that occurs throughout much of the world, although not common in New York, and are dust-filled vortices created by strong surface heating according to the National Weather Service.

They are smaller and usually less intense than a tornado but on a rare occasion wind speeds in dust devils can reach 86 mph or greater which is the same speed as an EF1 twister.

A few dust devils were been spotted across New York state back on April 11 in New York City, leaving bystanders puzzled and in awe.

The next reported one was spotted in Granville, New York, only a few days later on April 15, swirling near homes and leaving neighbors shocked and stunned.

Then in Central New York, yet another dust devil was spotted by William Paige in a corn field in Skaneateles this past Thursday afternoon, April 27, sent this great video he took of it.

How do Dust Devils form in New York?

Dust devils can form anywhere on a warmer, calm and dry/clear day, however according to the National Weather Service, these things don’t happen very often, especially in New York.

They form in areas where there’s strong surface heating between two different surface types like asphalt and dirt, or even irrigated fields and dirt roads, and usually under a clear sky and light winds.

When the hotter part of the ground heats up the air above it, becoming hotter than the air around it, it creates an unstable environment causing the surface air to rise and create a vertical column of warm air forming a dust devil.

When that rising air encounters cooler air, drawing more cool air into the vortex, then that’s when the dust devil starts to dissipate and collapse.

According to the American Meteorological Society, dust devils can range from 10 feet to 100 feet in width and have an average height of about 650 feet. The average dust devil last only a few minutes, but where in desserts where they are most common like in Arizona one can last up to an hour or so and extend thousands of feet up into the sky!