Radioactive dust devils in Nevada (USA)

A dust devil is a strong whirlwind, ranging from small (half a meter wide and a few meters tall) to large (more than 10 meters wide and more than 1000 meters tall). They are comparable to tornadoes, but dust devils form as a swirling updraft under sunny conditions during fair weather, rarely coming close to the intensity of a tornado. Dust devils are found in many parts of the world, although predominantly in desert regions.
The Nevada (Spanish for 'snow covered') Desert in the southwestern United States of America was the location for the testing of nuclear bombs from 1951 to 1992. The mushroom clouds from the 100 atmospheric tests could frequently be seen for almost 150 kilometers.

During those tests the direction or strength of the winds would sometimes change unexpectedly, driving radioactive dust over populated areas. Individuals that were exposed by that dust would even be given a name: downwinders.

Nevada Proving Grounds (NPG), then renamed to Nevada Test Site (NTS) is now called Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) consists of 3,500 km2) of remote desert and mountainous terrain. The immense blast site is still heavily contaminated with radioactive dust[1]. Dust devils might transport this radioactive dust over long distances, but hardly anyone talks about it.

[1] Snow: Dust devils at white sands missile range, New Mexico: 1. temporal and spatial distributions in Journal of Geophysical Research – 1990

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