A funnel cloud was spotted near Superior this week

Tornado vs funnel clouds. Can you tell the difference?

Posted: Updated:
This week, a small funnel cloud was spotted near Florence. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) This week, a small funnel cloud was spotted near Florence. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(3TV/CBS 5) -

This week, a small funnel cloud was spotted near Florence.

Since we don't see funnel clouds or tornadoes often in Arizona, it is sure to get your attention! On average, Arizona only sees about five tornadoes state-wide per year. 

But many times when a pic like this pops up, some are quick to shout "Tornado!"

Not so fast! There is one simple difference between a funnel cloud and a tornado.

A funnel cloud is a rotating column of air that dips out of the base of the cloud....but it does not touch the ground. 

Often, especially in tornado alley, funnel clouds can quickly touch the ground and become tornadoes. 

To be classified as a tornado, the funnel cloud must be in contact with the ground. 

A easy way to spot if a funnel has matured into a tornado is if the ground is being disturbed.

 
Often dirt, dust and debris will be lofted into the air as a tornado starts to take shape. 

If you see that, it's time to get out of Dodge! 

Click/tap here to download the free azfamily mobile app.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


  • Weather BlogMore>>

  • Twisters in Arizona?!

    Twisters in Arizona?!

    Wednesday, October 18 2017 7:54 AM EDT2017-10-18 11:54:28 GMT

    October has been off to a unseasonably warm and quiet start this year.  Most years, it’s a pretty uneventful month when it comes to stormy weather in our state.  October 2010 was a big exception, when we saw the worst tornado outbreak in state history.   

    More >

    October has been off to a unseasonably warm and quiet start this year.  Most years, it’s a pretty uneventful month when it comes to stormy weather in our state.  October 2010 was a big exception, when we saw the worst tornado outbreak in state history.   

    More >
  • Hurricane Ophelia is a record setter

    Hurricane Ophelia is a record setter

    Tuesday, October 17 2017 8:48 PM EDT2017-10-18 00:48:11 GMT
    Damage from Ophelia in Cork, Ireland (AP)Damage from Ophelia in Cork, Ireland (AP)

    Hurricane Ophelia is not a hurricane anymore, but winds are still pelting the British Isles. The impacts of this storm have been widespread.

    More >

    Hurricane Ophelia is not a hurricane anymore, but winds are still pelting the British Isles. The impacts of this storm have been widespread.

    More >
  • GONE FISHIN': Best AZ spots to reel in a catch during the fall

    GONE FISHIN': Best AZ spots to reel in a catch during the fall

    Monday, October 16 2017 12:55 PM EDT2017-10-16 16:55:48 GMT
    (Source: 3TV/ CBS 5)(Source: 3TV/ CBS 5)

    As the saying goes, a bad day of fishing is better than a good day at the office. Now that temperatures are cooling down and fish are becoming more active, where are the best lakes to catch them?

    More >

    As the saying goes, a bad day of fishing is better than a good day at the office. Now that temperatures are cooling down and fish are becoming more active, where are the best lakes to catch them?

    More >