People in a Welsh village flee from a ‘mini tornado’ in a pub car park

CCTV footage captured the moment people ran from what appeared to be a ‘mini-tornado’ near a pub in a Welsh village. The Begelly Arms in Begelly, Pembrokeshire, shared a clip of the incident, which took place on the afternoon of Sunday, May 19.

It shows a man and a woman running from a swirling cloud that is moving quickly from the parking lot towards the building. You see another man running to a table to save his drink before it is knocked over by the small whirlwind.

The pub posted the footage on social media, writing that the village had experienced a ‘mini tornado’. But the Met Office has confirmed to WalesOnline that what happened was not a tornado, but a ‘dust devil’.

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The moment the dust devil formed in the parking lot(Image: Begelly Armen)
The twister swept over the blue open-top car seen in the photo, setting off the alarm(Image: Begelly Armen)

A dust devil, also known as a ‘willy willy’, is an “upward spiraling, dust-filled vortex of air that can vary in height from a few meters to more than 300 metres”, according to the Met Office. While a tornado forms from clouds and grows toward the ground, a dust devil forms from the ground upward through a rising column of air.

They generally occur in desert and semi-arid areas, where dry soil and high surface temperatures create strong updrafts. They typically last only a few minutes and although they resemble small tornadoes, they are much less powerful or destructive. Join our WhatsApp news community here for the latest breaking news

The phenomenon frightened customers, who fled for safety(Image: Begelly Armen)
It moved very quickly and lasted about 30 seconds(Image: Begelly Armen)

But the appearance of someone outside the Begelly Arms still frightened customers, said the pub’s owner, Peter Adams. He said it was a sunny and still day, with “no wind at all”, and that the dust devil “came out of nowhere”.

“My wife and I were sitting outside talking to one of our customers. We were just sitting there quietly having a drink under the canopy,” he said. “Then we heard a car alarm go off, looked around and (the dust devil) was the first thing we saw.” Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest Welsh news delivered to your inbox

The 66-year-old explained that the swirling mass had moved over the car – the blue car with an open roof on the camera footage – and set off the alarm. It lasted about 30 seconds and moved towards where Peter was sitting. “We didn’t know what to expect… we all quickly braced ourselves and put our hands on the tops of the drinks,” he said.

One customer sprinted to save his drink from the dust devil(Image: Begelly Armen)

He said there had been a few sightings in the area of ​​funnel clouds – which form in the sky and turn into tornadoes when they reach the ground – which is why they initially thought it might be one of them. “He hit the actual (awning) where we were sitting, and I think that must have stopped him in his tracks.”

He added: “I’ve never seen one like it. You see occasional gusts of wind, but I’ve never seen one come across the parking lot like that, moving as if it were radio controlled… It was very strange to see.”