PALM DESERT, Calif. - Robert Arthur and Sandra Wollin moved to the Coachella Valley one year ago for its weather. But, early Saturday afternoon they experienced something they never expected.
"I felt it shake and like they say a locomotive sound and I though what in the world went be an earth mover." said Arthur.
Wollin described what she saw.
"It wasn't all that big a round, but it was about three and a half stories high and it was really powerful," said Wollin.
What they experienced was likely a dust devil, which occurs when rapid heating at the earth's surface causes an updraft that combines with gusty winds and generates rotation.
Arthur and Wollin soon discovered severe damage to their home.
"It took off the awning over the patio in the one big space," said Wollin. "It bent the structure of it and took off some shingles on the house, broke a window with some flying debris and thankfully nobody was on the golf course or they would have probably gotten killed from flying debris."
According to Wollin, one piece of metal that started on their roof ended up all the way in the middle of the fairway.
"I'd seen microbursts in Florida the type of thing to just pick up a tree and let it go," she said. "But, I;d never experienced anything like this before."
Dust devils can produce winds as strong as 60 miles per hour and last up to 20 minutes before dissipating. However, most are small, weak and do little damage.