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Make hay when the sun shines, they say.

But residents of Lea Lane at Netherthong were left clutching at straws today when a whirlwind lifted hay from a neighbouring field and left it strewn across gardens and footpaths.

Resident Ms Joan Clegg said: “The whirlwind has picked up hay from the field and it’s in all the gardens. The whirlwind carried on in the direction of Meltham. We’re all out picking the hay up and putting it back in the field!”

Netherthong resident Geoff Armstrong, who captured the falling hay on video, said: “There about five or six clumps in my garden and the road is littered with it and I think a large part of western Netherthong is too.

“It was an amazing sight, you just don’t expect to see massive lumps of hay falling from the sky.”

Ambulance team Jake Fielder, of Salendine Nook, and Anne Pearson, of Oakes, were travelling though Netherthong on their way to Huddersfield ambulance station when they saw the whirlwind take shape.

 

They pulled over and Jake videoed the scene. “It was very peculiar,” he said. “Four or five other people stopped their cars to watch it. One man climbed into the field to get a closer look. We watched it for about two minutes. I’ve never seen anything like it before.”

Salendine Nook weatherman Paul Stevens said the whirlwind, which was sighted at about 1.20pm, is more properly known as a convective dust devil, which develops when the ground heats up more quickly than the air immediately above.

He said: “The sun beats down throughout the morning and heats the ground, but the air just a few centimetres above is relatively cool. The difference can be as much as 10 or 15 degrees.

“As the heat from the ground transfers to the air above, you can get a thermal – a bubble of warm air compared to the air round it. That can grow to be quite large and starts to circulate. Anything loose, like leaves or straw can lift up to high levels.”

Paul said dust devils were commonly seen on beaches lifting sand, parasols and lilos. “Some have been tracked for about 10 minutes before they die away,” he said.

Paul said dust devils and even mini tornadoes – funnel clouds that “touch down” on the ground – might be a more common sight in and around Huddersfield given the heatwave forecast for the next few days.

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