'Coalnado': Like a Sharknado, but at a coal mine with no sharks

A dust devil-like vortex stirred things up in West Virginia.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser

A coalnado is not to be confused with a Sharknado from the Syfy network.

Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET

And you thought it couldn't get weirder than a firenado.

Katherine Thompson, chief meteorologist for West Virginia station WVVA, shared a video this week showing a black hellmouth of a dust devil swirling around at a coal mine in Elkhorn. 

"Though not a tornado and much weaker than one, it has earned the nickname 'coalnado' around the mine! Crazy," Thompson tweeted.

The Sharknado movie series has made it popular to label all sorts of weird weather phenomenon as a "whatever-nado." The coal mine event wasn't an actual tornado, but it was a very large whirlwind that picked up dark bits of coal from the ground, giving it an ominous color.

Heavy-equipment operator Randy Walters originally captured the video and shared it to Facebook on Monday with the straightforward caption "coal tornado." The massive whirlwind sounded like a train, he noted in the comments.

The footage is spectacular, but it's not the first of its kind. Another coal tornado raged in 2017 at a factory in Chelyabinsk, Russia. A fire tornado sparked by the devastating 2018 California wildfires was responsible for the death of a firefighter.

The coalnado is not a sign of the end times, but it does show how whirlwinds will happily pick up whatever is in their path.

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