Northern Ireland

Cork dust devil seen in Ballycotton

Meteorologists in Ireland rarely, if ever, issue whirlwind warnings for Ballycotton in east Cork, but local resident Conor Wall captured such a sight on his mobile phone on Monday afternoon.

"There was a gang of us at the home of my wife's grandmother when we first noticed straw being tossed high into the air in a nearby field," Mr Wall explained. "I first thought it was a farmer collecting hay in some strange manner."

The father-of-three only returned to east Cork at the weekend after a business trip to the United States.

"I had to be mindful of a tornado warning while I was in Cleveland, I then had to head further north to fly out on account of Hurricane Irene, so let's just say I was not expecting to see tornadoes in Ballycotton of all places" he said.

The footage shows what appears to be two minor tornadoes making their way across a field and a road, passing into further fields while tossing hay into the air.

Jerry Murphy, a meteorologist with Met Eireann, the Irish National Meteorological Service, said while mini-tornadoes can occur at times in Ireland, Monday's weather conditions point towards a different outcome.

"Heavy showers and a significant amount of convection are associated with mini-tornadoes so what we believe was captured on footage yesterday were 'dust devils,'" explained Mr Murphy.

"These are where a small localised area of warm air forms at a surface, in this case the surface of a field, with cooler air above it and the warmer air if you like darts up into the cooler air, causing a vortex which looks like a cloud of dust rising up."

All those who witnessed the phenomenon remain impressed.

"It was amazing to see and all of us there, aged three to 90, were delighted to see it, in fact my three-year-old nephew Luca said to me afterwards it was 'just extraordinary', I was amazed he even knew that word," Mr Wall said.

He added that Cork rivalry remains at the fore: "My mother who grew up in west Cork claims to have beaten me by 60 years as she says 'fairy winds' were a common sight, but then the west Cork people always have to be first at everything."