Dust devil tears roof off Alta Sierra barn

ALTA SIERRA, Calif. – Jill Curtis was on the phone with her step-daughter when she heard the sound of metal crashing.

"And I turned to look and it just got louder and I saw the whole roof come off the old cow barn," Curtis said.

It was exactly 2:22 p.m. on Wednesday, the moment her cell phone preserved when she hung up.

"It whirled around and all the tin separated and it went really high up in the sky. It was above the trees over there," Curtis said, pointing to the northwest.

Curtis was confused, thinking the natural phenomenon was a tornado.

"I was expecting my hair to be blowing around and dust and all this stuff and it was completely calm where I was standing," Curtis recalled.

According to the National Weather Service in Sacramento, her barn was not hit by a tornado, but a powerful dust devil, which is rare for the foothills.

Several sheets were tossed 200 yards. One neighbor found a section nearly a mile away.

"They're about 6-foot sheets so that's why I was amazed because it probably pulled 20, 25 sheets off," she said.

The only damage caused was to the old barn, dating back more than 100 years.

"If I would not have seen it with my own eyes I would not have believed it," Curtis said, "And it freaked me out for the rest of the day because I just was in awe that something out of the blue could happen like that."


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