A "cold dust devil" dropped down at a Rose Bowl parking lot Wednesday as Southern California's year-ending weather continued to defy the odds.
The freak wind event tore canopies from their stakes and sent them flying and people running. At least four people suffered minor injuries and were treated at the scene. Police say one person went to the hospital with an injured finger.
If unusually strong winds and snow at low elevations weren't enough to make folks eager to ring in the New Year, this weather anomaly might do the trick.
"We're calling it a dust devil but a cold one," said National Weather Service forecaster Ryan Kittell. "It was not a tornado. There's no thunder clouds in the area."
Wednesday afternoon, as vendors prepared their booths, forecasters say a spike of cold air dropped down into Parking Lot H at the Rose Bowl, lifting and intensifying the wind around it until two booth canopies were torn from their stakes and lifted into the air.
The crowd – including one hapless soul who struggled to see through a cow costume – hurried to get out of the way. Video shows some booth workers trying, futilely, to catch the tarps as they dipped and lifted into the air.
Finally, one of the canopies slammed to the ground after the wind dragged it across two car roofs. The other collapsed behind the vehicles.
"I suppose there has to be a lot of things in place for it to happen," Bonnie Bartling, NWS weather specialist, said of the cold dust devil -- which she termed a rare event.
"This is one of those situations where it was in place."