Devil of a day at McIvor Lake

Dust devil rises out of the parking lot and surprises lake goers in Campbell River

McIvor Lake swimmers were surprised to see a dust devil rise from the parking lot located at the northwest corner of the lake last Thursday afternoon.

A weather phenomenon took McIvor Lake by storm last week.

Barrie Darnel, owner of Duke’s Dockside Grill in Campbellton, was enjoying a beautiful sunny afternoon at the lake last Thursday when the peace was disrupted.

“I’m sitting at the beach with my two grandbabies and I’m looking at the water and all of a sudden everyone is looking behind me and saying ‘what’s that?’ I looked behind me and went ‘holy cow, a tornado’,” Darnel said.

The “tornado” turned out to be a dust devil – a whirlwind similar in shape to a tornado that forms when hot air near the surface rises quickly through a pocket of cooler air above it. The hot air moves both upwards and in a circle through the swirling dust.

Darnel said the whirlwind picked up in the dusty family parking lot located on the northwest side of McIvor Lake, and shot 300 feet up into the air and was about “the length of a car” in diametre.

Darnel couldn’t believe what he was seeing and snapped four photos of the phenomenon. His photo was posted on the Mirror’s Facebook page last Thursday and quickly caught the attention of readers.

Several people questioned the validity of the photo but Sandra Hughes-Koughan, who was at McIvor Lake on vacation, came to Darnel’s defence.

“Not fake,” Hughes-Koughan said. “It was totally real.”

To prove it, she released a video she shot of the dust devil, which is also on the Mirror’s Facebook page.

Darnel said the funnel-like phenomenon kicked up around 2:40 p.m., lasted about six minutes, and was gone as suddenly as it appeared.

“It was the coolest thing,” he said. “There was no wind or anything else in the trees, just this Kansas City tornado. It was a nice, hot, hot day at the lake. It was calm, not windy.”

According to, clear skies, flat land, no wind and a cooler atmosphere contribute to dust devils, which are typically most prevalent in dry, hot, arid and semi-arid areas like a desert.

The eye-catching dust funnel occurred just one day after a small brush fire, in the bushes across from the boat launch at McIvor Lake, which scorched a 30×60 metre patch of forest and was put out three hours after fire crews attended.

To view Hughes-Koughan’s video visit the Mirror’s Facebook page or visit