The Flying Porta-Potties

Bill's Blog
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By now, many of you have seen the video by Gabriel Flores of the flying porta-potties.  This is from Commerce City, Colorado, a suburb just to the northeast of Denver.  I wondered, what caused this?  My first thought was a “dust devil” (without the dust).  The wind came up suddenly – if it was a constant wind, you wouldn’t have had all the people in the park.  It’s June, the sun is highest in the sky.  The air looks relatively dry.  There certainly was some lift to get the porta-potties that high into the air.  If you look closely, the wind appears to change direction somewhat, ending up blowing from right to left. They were lucky no one was hurt. 

This is the Denver Airport Climate Data.  They get a lot of days with strong winds/ wind gusts.  This month so far, the fastest gust was 54 mph on the 5th, but many days have gusts +30 mph.  Especially from late fall to early spring, strong chinook winds can shoot down out of the mountains.  I certainly can’t say for sure…but at this point, I’d guess a relatively dustless dust devil was the porta-potty-picker-upper. 

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