NEW YORK (WSYR-TV) — What looks like miniature tornados and are somewhat fascinating to watch, ‘dust devils,’ have been spotted all around New York 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 less intense than a tornado but are still pretty powerful with wind speeds that can reach 60 mph or greater.

In New York, dust devils have been spotted all over New York starting 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 in a corn field in Skaneateles on April 29, sent to us by William Paige.

How do Dust Devils form in New York?

Dust devils can form anywhere on a hot, calm and dry 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 clear skies and light wind.

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.