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.


  • Arizona's Family Weather BlogMore>>

  • How cold is too cold for your dog?

    How cold is too cold for your dog?

    Friday, December 8 2017 11:26 AM EST2017-12-08 16:26:20 GMT
    A coat may be a good option for some dogs, but make sure it is loose fitting and doesn't obstruct the dog's movement. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)A coat may be a good option for some dogs, but make sure it is loose fitting and doesn't obstruct the dog's movement. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

    Winter is here and that can mean some seriously cold weather in Arizona! But how cold is too cold for your pet pooch?

    More >

    Winter is here and that can mean some seriously cold weather in Arizona! But how cold is too cold for your pet pooch?

    More >
  • The 103-day dry streak is concerning

    The 103-day dry streak is concerning

    Monday, December 4 2017 7:07 PM EST2017-12-05 00:07:29 GMT
    It could be awhile before Arizona sees snow or rain. (Source: mycola / 123RF Stock Photo)It could be awhile before Arizona sees snow or rain. (Source: mycola / 123RF Stock Photo)

    Dec. 4 is the 103rd day without measurable rain in Phoenix. But on top of that, the entire state has been very dry the past several months. How hard could the forecast La Nina winter be?

    More >

    Dec. 4 is the 103rd day without measurable rain in Phoenix. But on top of that, the entire state has been very dry the past several months. How hard could the forecast La Nina winter be?

    More >
  • Full circle at Arizona's Family

    Full circle at Arizona's Family

    Monday, December 4 2017 4:29 PM EST2017-12-04 21:29:39 GMT

    Seventeen years ago this month, I moved out of Arizona to start my very first broadcasting job. It was a surprise to meet my future husband at that station, and even more of a surprise to be working side-by-side again so many years later. 

    More >

    Seventeen years ago this month, I moved out of Arizona to start my very first broadcasting job. It was a surprise to meet my future husband at that station, and even more of a surprise to be working side-by-side again so many years later. 

    More >