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Submitted video: Large dust devil spotted near Highway 99

A large dust devil was captured on video Saturday by Merced resident Leanna Rhodes.

Rhodes was driving on Highway 99 to a family event Saturday afternoon when she noticed the funnel cloud near the weigh station at South Arboleda Drive. She made a U-turn, and turned on her video camera.

In the minute-long video, the cloud can be seen spinning over a dirt field, not far from the highway's edge.

Though Rhodes said it looked like a "baby twister," it wasn't a tornado, according to James Brotherton, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. It was a dust devil, which can occur when the air near the ground is heated, he said.

"A real tornado would be associated with a severe thunderstorm," said Brotherton, who admitted that dust devils, like the one Rhodes captured on film, can still be impressive acts of nature.

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