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Hot Shots: Dust devil, huge hail, earthquake and more

Highlighting images in transportation, trucking and weather

Every Friday, FreightWaves takes a look at the past week or so in social media, highlighting images in trucking, transportation and weather. This week features a big California dust devil, Midwest hail the size of softballs, a strong earthquake in Mexico and more.

What the devil?!

A large dust devil popped up Tuesday in California. Video shows the dust devil spinning above flapping tents at a base camp for crews fighting the Antelope fire in the northeastern part of the state. This wildfire was approaching 99,000 acres in size as of early Friday morning, according to InciWeb, and was 77% contained.

Dust devils look like tornadoes but typically form on hot, clear days. Pockets of hot air rise quickly into the cooler air aloft, creating spin, which leads to a funnel that develops from the ground upward. In contrast, tornadoes drop down to the ground from the base of a severe thunderstorm.

Hefty hail

Speaking of severe storms, dozens of them hit parts of the Midwest earlier this week. A brief tornado touched down in northeastern Illinois, but the National Weather Service received 129 reports of large hail (at least 1 inch in diameter).

Some of the biggest hail, softball to grapefruit size, pelted Appleton and other areas of southeastern Wisconsin. The NWS said baseball-size hail broke windows in a home in Mackville, just north of Appleton. Golf ball- to tennis ball-size hail damaged cars in Kewaunee and also hit portions of Michigan and Illinois.

Tremendous tremors

A strong earthquake Tuesday evening shook parts of Mexico. The 7.0 magnitude temblor struck near the port and resort city of Acapulco, but people reported feeling it more than 200 miles away in the capital, Mexico City. As buildings and the ground shook, pulses of light from transformers flashed across the night sky.

Fortunately, damage in most places was minor to moderate. However, various officials have blamed the earthquake for at least one death. The earthquake knocked out electricity to about 1.6 million customers in Mexico City and throughout four states, according to the Comisión Federal de Electricidad, the country’s state-owned utility service. The utility has been working all week to restore power.

(Map: FreightWaves SONAR Critical Events. Southwestern Mexico earthquake, Sep. 7, 2021. To learn more about FreightWaves SONAR, click here.)

Aerial attack

Dozens of large wildfires continue to burn millions of acres of land in Western states. One of them is the Dixie fire in Northern California — the largest in the country — which was first reported on July 13. While thousands of firefighters have been setting up containment lines on the ground, others attack from the air, dropping water and/or fire retardant from aircraft.

Because of the very busy fire season, one air tanker base set an annual record late last week for fire retardant delivery — 6.3 million gallons. Aircraft from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection’s McClellan base have been fighting the Dixie fire, as well as the Caldor fire in eastern California, which recently spread close to the resort town of South Lake Tahoe.

Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Nick Austin.

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Nick Austin

Nick is a meteorologist with 20 years of forecasting and broadcasting experience. He was nominated for a Midsouth Emmy for his coverage during a 2008 western Tennessee tornado outbreak. He received his Bachelor of Science in Meteorology from Florida State University, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Management from the Georgia Tech. Nick is a member of the American Meteorological Society and National Weather Association. As a member of the weather team at WBBJ-TV in Jackson, Tennessee, Nick was nominated for a Mid-South Emmy for live coverage of a major tornado outbreak in February 2008. As part of the weather team at WRCB-TV in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Nick shared the Chattanooga Times-Free Press Best of the Best award for “Best Weather Team” eight consecutive years.