Sunday, August 19, 2012

Whoa, Funnel Cloud! At 7,000 Feet?


We had an energetic thunderstorm this afternoon (August 19). When I walked out on my back porch to admire it, here’s what I saw:


I’d guess it was about half a mile to the north-north-west of us.

And then it got closer:


Mind you, here in Sandia Park (NM) we’re at almost 7,000 feet elevation. I didn’t think we got tornadoes … so what the heck is it?

A neighbor who is meteorologically sophisticated told me it was a downspout. According to the National Weather service, it was a funnel cloud. By definition, a funnel cloud isn’t a tornado unless it touches down and wreaks some havoc on the surface. I watched this one for 20 minutes or so and never saw it touch down.

This phenomenon was unusual enough to make our local news:

I didn’t realize that "tornadoes can and do occur at high elevations" - this summer, one was spotted at almost 12,000' in Colorado.

But they are rare - either because so few people live above 5,000' that the tornadoes that do occur aren’t seen and reported, or (according to MSNBC), because mountains like ours break up the large-scale weather systems that give rise most tornadoes ...

What a long, strange summer this has been!

Designer, kNotes for kNitters
Creator, Happy Hands Hand Cream for Knitters
Sandia Park, NM

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