Some residents of Fresnillo, Zacatecas, looked up in alarm while others dashed for their cellphones as an earth-colored tornado spun through the area on Tuesday, but without leaving much evidence of its passage.
State Civil Protection officials said the low-density tornado touched down at 1:00pm between the communities of Saucito del Poleo and Valdecañas and generated winds of between 60 and 117 kilometers per hour, qualifying it as an EF0 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale — the lowest rating for tornado intensity.
Although many residents were alarmed, authorities reported neither property damage nor injuries. Videos and photos of the phenomenon have been widely shared on social media.
According to Manuel de Jesús Macías Patiño, an environmental expert and researcher at the Autonomous University of Zacatecas, climate change was to blame for the event. He added that while whirlwinds and small tornados are not uncommon in Zacatecas during other seasons, a long dry spell caused by changing climate conditions facilitated the formation of the twister.
Macías Patiño advised residents to be prepared to see more unusual and out-of-season weather patterns and phenomenon as climate change accelerates. He also said that since storms and tornados were likely to become both more frequent and stronger, the state government should invest in special radar technology capable of detecting conditions under which tornados form.