GREAT FALLS — Two people have shared photos of cold-air funnels seen in Montana over the last 36 hours.
Karol Zuback snapped this photo he took on Friday of a cold-air funnel in Browning:
On Saturday, Denise Fogelson, who lives in Ulm, saw a cold-air funnel while feeding her horses:
According to the National Weather Service, cold air funnels form beneath showers or weak thunderstorms when the air aloft is especially cold.
Cold air funnels are usually harmless, but on rare occasions they can touch down and cause EF-0 level (winds up to 85 mph) tornado damage.
Cold-air funnels are not tornadoes, as they do not actually touch the ground.
Montana typically sees several tornadoes every year in the Spring, particularly in the eastern part of the state.
Unlike those in "Tornado Alley" in the central part of the country, most Montana tornadoes are relatively small and usually touch down in sparsely-populated areas – but not always.
In 2016, an EF-3 tornado hit the town of Baker in southeast Montana.
In 2015, a small tornado hit near Sidney in Richland County in eastern Montana, injuring one person and causing some damage.
In June 2010, a tornado hit Billings, causing significant damage to the MetraPark facility.
Just several weeks later, two people were killed when a tornado struck a family ranch near Reserve in northeastern Montana.
- July 2021: Confirmed tornado near Hays