Weather Blog

What is a "cold core" funnel cloud?

What is a "cold core" funnel cloud?

Storm chaser Billy Griffin captured this photo of a funnel cloud in near Maple Valley, Wash. on Arpil 28. It might look scary, but it probably wasn't the start of an actual tornado.

This is likely a "cold core" funnel cloud. 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.