Weather Blog

Funnel cloud over Lake Washington

Funnel cloud over Lake Washington
We had several reports Monday morning of what appeared to be a funnel cloud over Lake Washington around 8:45 a.m.

An Eastside resident, who wanted to remain anonymous, captured this video of the event from her home in Bellevue:

There was a Convergence Zone in the area at the time, and sometimes when we get a cool system moving in after a warm spell, we can get what are called "cold core" funnels around here.

What are those? They're like a tornado's little brother in that they look like tornado/funnel clouds, but aren't nearly as destructive. These are spawned from non-severe storms and can occur when you get a tightly wrapped rush of rising air that can appear as a funnel.

Cold-core funnels rarely reach the ground, and if they do, are very weak and rarely cause any destruction.

They are actually, well, I don't want to say "common" but they aren't that rare either, and Convergence Zones are typical culprits.

While we're on the subject, just in case you're curious, a "funnel cloud" is just a tornado that doesn't reach the ground.  Also, a "waterspout" is just a tornado that occurs over water. So if it's determined that whatever this was did touch down, it would be classified as a waterspout.

Note that so far, we have not had any official confirmation that this was indeed a funnel cloud -- the National Weather Service would make that call.  Many times, low hanging, ragged clouds that dip below the cloud base get mistaken for funnel clouds -- they key is to look for rotation. If the cloud is just drifting or hanging below, then it's just a cloud.

But the reports we've had so far have been consistent in time, location, movement and rotation, and the video sure looks consistent with a funnel cloud.

If you captured any of this weather event, please e-mail it to me at