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Yesterday (April 23rd approx. 6:15pm) I was on my way home, westbound on I-80 and I am positive that I say a funnel cloud/tornado coming out of the clouds and then within about 5 minutes it slowing went away back into the clouds. What was this, was it a possible tornado. Did anyone get a picture of it?
Did you see the funnel clouds in the sky today? While I was working, I was surprised see the heavy rain come down on such a clear afternoon. Around 6pm, the rain came down across the western Salt Lake area. As soon as the rain stopped, I went outside to look at the clouds and could tell some formations were developing which appeared to be the beginning of funnel clouds. Tornadoes are not uncommon to Salt Lake and I was thinking maybe another one would be coming our way. About 30 - 45 minutes later, heavy hail began to fall. What's going on with our weather today? Were the clouds in a formation which could have caused a tornado to touch ground? Rod H.
Here's a great photo of the SLC funnel courtesy of Dr. Ed Zipser from the U of U Meteorology department.
The funnel didn't touch the ground and formed in the updraft area of the storm. If a funnel doesn't touch the ground it is just a funnel cloud, when it touches the ground it would then be called a tornado. This funnel dissipated and then the thunderstorm brought in heavy rain as the observers above noted.
It's tough to say if the funnel could or could not have reached the ground. You can have weak funnel clouds form in environments with strong wind shear which may have been what was happening the other evening. Wind Shear is just either speed or directional shear. Speed shear is wind increasing with height (going up in the vertical). Directional shear is wind changing direction with height as in at the surface strong south winds and then winds veering to northwest aloft.
You are right, Utah is no stranger to tornadoes, we actually average about 2 a year. There might be more but so much of the state is unpopulated and some may go unreported.
Answered by KSL Meteorologist Dina Freedman.