Author: Isabella

The Santa Maria Valley is a hot spot for dust devils

The Santa Maria Valley is a hot spot for dust devils

Rain lingers over parts of California from big, slow-moving storm clouds that bring with them a cool breeze and the smell of dirt and tree sap.

It’s also an ideal place for the most extreme of conditions, because a little warm ground can send dust devils spinning up. In recent days, wind and rain have driven them up from foothills to the Santa Maria Valley.

“That’s part of the reason we’ve got so many in our valley,” said Doug Dye, who works for California Department of Public Health and is the county’s chief medical officer. “Most people have not seen them up here before.”

Dye, who has more than 20 years of experience inspecting public health buildings for dust, says he has never seen these wind-driven storms move like clouds of tiny dust devils.

“You look at the sky and you’re basically sitting like a fly on the wall watching the dust devils,” he said.

And that’s why they’re a big deal.

The dust devils can sweep up fine particulates that are breathed in by everyone who lives around them. Those tiny, invisible particles can take years of a person’s life and cause a host of diseases, including cancer. They also can trigger asthma attacks or respiratory illness among those breathing in them.

Dust devils are often described as small whirlwinds on the ground, usually made up of hundreds of tiny particles, and they move at speeds of up to 25 mph in the air. They can appear from nowhere.

“You have these swirling clouds of dust particles, which have a tendency to move a lot more than people think they should move,” said Steve Zaleski, a meteorologist with the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho.

A dust devil made a short trip here on Friday. (Rachel Aston / KSBY)

That’s exactly what happened recently in the Santa Maria Valley, where the windy southerly wind and clouds of dust particles pushed a dust devil up from a nearby foothill.

That was seen by Dye and his team at the county’s health service, which is based at the county

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