Severe Storm Spawns Tornado or Not?

Gustnado Under Dark Clouds

POSTED: 4:41 PM Jul 17 2012   UPDATED: 4:44 PM Jul 17 2012
0717 Funnel Cloud Explainer Image

Travollis McDaniel, Sr. sent a video in to NewChannel12 of what looks like a funnel cloud.  We took the video to the National Weather Service.  Meteorologist Robert Frederick takes a look and calls it the beginning of a gustnado.

"This is not a classic tornado that we would normally get with a supercell thunderstorm.  They're usually brief and relatively weak," said Frederick.

The video was taken while McDaniel was traveling south on Hwy 17 near River Bend.  The dark clouds is with the gust front which is cold air coming from the storm to the ground.  The "funnel cloud" is underneath the dark clouds of the gust front.  Behind the gustnado is a white area called the rain shaft which is an area of very heavy rainfall.

"We can't really see rotation with this video so we don't know for sure if this was spinning," said Frederick.

The hardest part about forecasting and identifying a gustnado is that it's spin does not show up that easily on radar. A tornado's spin shows up very well on radar.

The video does not officially classify it as a tornado, but it looks like one.