A seemly innocent dust devil is suspected of damaging a home in Quesnel.
Melissa Schotel’s mom and stepdad were inside their property behind Correlieu Secondary School on Sunday, April 10, when they heard a loud noise at around 5 p.m.
It was startling enough for the couple to get up to check, believing something might have crashed nearby.
Outside they found a mangled mess.
A deck roof running the length of their home was torn off, with one piece landing in their garden and another on top of their now-damaged travel trailer.
Schotel said a corner of the home’s roof was also lifted up but luckily didn’t fly away.
“It bent over their chimney pipe and took out pieces off their fence,” she added.
“It was pretty surprising.”
Several neighbours rushed over to make sure Schotel’s parents were Ok.
While her parents didn’t witness what had damaged their home, Schotel said a neighbour told them of seeing what appeared to have been a whirlwind of dust going through the field.
“They were pretty shaken up. My mom was pretty upset,” she said.
“We don’t know how much damage was done to the travel trailer….We have to wait until insurance comes and takes some pictures and does their thing, then we can take it off and see what’s been done to that.”
Environment Canada meteorologist Doug Lundquist thinks it is likely a dust devil caused the damage.
The relatively short-lived whirlwinds are common in April, May and June.
As the daytime sun heats the ground surface, hot air rises quickly through the colder air above it, leading to the formation of a dust devil.
“It’s just that very unstable atmosphere that we get in the spring causes the wind to pick up into a dust devil,” Lundquist said.
Although most dust devils are not capable of causing damage, the damage to the home of Schotel’s parents is consistent with what they can do.
Lundquist noted dust devils usually damage things like sheds, carports and deck covers typically made of weaker construction and where the wind can get underneath.
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