ST. IGNATIUS — Around 5:30 pm this evening a funnel cloud was seen in the Mission Valley. A rather impressive view! But was this a funnel cloud, land spout, or a tornado - and what's the difference? Good question!
The main difference between a tornado and funnel cloud is this: a funnel cloud does not make contact with the ground, while a tornado has some sort of interaction with the ground.
A funnel cloud will stay aloft, but once it makes contact with the ground it immediately becomes a tornado.
Typical signs of this interaction with the ground includes debris from the ground being brought aloft or dust circulation on the ground.
Land spouts are non-super cell tornadoes. Basically, they are narrow funnels that form while the thunderstorm cloud is still growing with no rotating updraft. Most of the rotation stays near the ground with minimal damage.
At this point, we can not confirm whether or not the funnel cloud touched down, thus keeping it just that - a funnel. However, some reports from viewers say it did touch down, making it a tornado.
Many times members of the National Weather Service will drive to the scene and evaluate damage and see if it indeed touched down.
We'll bring updates on this if the National Weather Service does drive to the scene on Wednesday.
Either way, a rather impressive weather scene in the Mission Valley!
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