A few funnel clouds popped up today

May 23, 2017: If you were lucky, you may have seen an interesting (and at times, a scary looking) weather phenomenon today amidst the rain showers and cloudy weather. The atmosphere was set up for cold air funnel clouds, which have the appearance of a normal funnel cloud we seen during severe weather. These funnels, however, are usually harmless.

Here’s the environment necessary to get the cold air funnels: there needs to be a layer of shallow, cold air in place- this usually happens behind a cold front, like we had move through today. As the shallow cold air mixes with the air above it, if you can get winds moving at different directions as you rise through the atmosphere, you can get a weak rotation going. This rotation forms a weak funnel cloud, high up in the clouds.

Because the rotation is high in the clouds, it rarely reaches the ground. However, if you ever see a funnel cloud reaching toward the ground, head to shelter quickly.

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on May 23, 2017

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