Dust devil wreaks havoc on South Carolina beach

A dust devil sent towels flying into the air and turned a normal day at the beach into a scary scene on Wednesday in South Carolina.

Marty Hipp, a beachgoer, grabbed her phone and started to record the dust devil as it spun up beach towels and disrupted several sunbathers on Garden City Beach in South Carolina on Wednesday. Garden City Beach is about 9 miles south of Myrtle Beach.

As Hipp recorded the scary encounter, a person in the background could be heard saying, “What in the world? I don’t want to be those people right there.”

Hipp originally had spotted the whirlwind as it formed over the sand dunes farther back on the beach. She grabbed her phone to record the scene as the dust devil twirled across the beach and toward the water.

On Wednesday, a dust devil formed on the beach in Garden Beach City, South Carolina. (Storyful/Marty Hipp)

“I was worried about the people on the beach and very thankful no one was hurt,” Hipp told Storyful.

According to the National Weather Service (NWS), dust devils form when there is strong surface heating, often under clear skies and with light winds.

On Wednesday, temperatures at Garden City Beach were in the 70s and winds were light, according to the NWS office in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Earlier this month, a dust devil formed out of thin air in Florida during a Little League baseball game. The spiraling vortex engulfed a 7-year-old catcher, but thanks to a quick-thinking umpire, the boy was pulled out of the dust devil unharmed.


While mostly harmless, these types of whirlwinds can pack wind speeds that top 60 miles per hour, according to the NWS. Strong dust devils can potentially damage or even destroy small structures. While rare, dust devils can also cause injuries or even fatalities.

In 2019, a powerful dust devil tore through a packed tourist attraction in China’s Shaqiu City. The large, spiraling vortex lifted a bouncy castle into the air, tragically killing two children and injuring 20 others.

Another dust devil in 2019 tore through a soccer field in Achocalla, Bolivia, interrupting a local soccer game in the process. As the large dust devil spun across the pitch, players and referees gathered on the side of the field and watched. One player was picked up by the winds but walked away with no injuries.

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