I learned a new word today. As a person who has worked with words nearly all of his life, I like expanding my vocabulary, even if the new word is a conjured amalgam and does not appear in the 14-year-old dictionary on my shelf.
The word is: “gustnado.” It appeared in a news story in the morning paper about the Saturday storm that blew through the valley. A weather service meteorologist explained that a gustnado is a “cyclonic circulation” toward the ground. “A gustnado is just sort of a quick spin up toward the surface and not really connected with the cloud surface itself,” he said.
According to Wikipedia, “A gustnado is a brief, shallow surface-based vortex which forms within the downburst emanating from a thunderstorm. The name is a portmanteau (a blend of words to form a new word) by elision (omission of one or more sounds in a word) of “gust front tornado“, as gustnadoes form due to non-tornadic straight-line wind features in the downdraft (outflow), specifically within the gust front of strong thunderstorms.” By the way, portmanteau and elision are new words for me, too.
Why they don’t simply call it a whirlwind is beyond me, but the language evolves over the years. For the better, for the worse.
Here is an explainer:
Illinois TV station from a year ago.