Arizona monsoon unleashes funnel clouds, tornado

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(Source: Viewer photo) (Source: Viewer photo)
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

Tornadoes and funnel clouds aren't something many would think of when it comes to Arizona weather, but since last Thursday, we've seen both.

The number one rule to living in Arizona during the monsoon is to expect the unexpected. Even then, just before 11 a.m. Saturday, many living in Prescott were caught off guard when an eerie formation appeared in the sky.

"There were a couple of rain clouds to the north, northeast that we were keeping an eye on. We all of a sudden saw a funnel cloud from one of the rainstorms. It was bizarre. I've never seen anything like that before," said Ryan DeLand.

That morning, Deland was working at the Prescott Airport when he reports not one, not two, but three funnel clouds developed right before his eyes. He captured several photos on his phone, and compared them to others taken by his manager, Rich Wayne, and a pilot, Mike Buben. 

The National Weather Service of Flagstaff commented about the phenomenon on social media.

"It was odd. I actually couldn't believe it for the first couple of minutes. I was worried that it would turn into a tornado," said DeLand.

Luckily, it didn't.

Funnel clouds are spinning columns of air that spawn from storm clouds. They don't become tornadoes until they touch the ground.

While not common, tornadoes do happen in Arizona, even in Phoenix. In fact, last Thursday evening, the monsoon unleashed a land-spout tornado, caught on tape just south of downtown by storm chaser Mike Olbinksi. The National Weather Service office of Phoenix confirmed it.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Arizona Monsoon 2017]

Unlike tornadoes in the Midwest that drop from supercell thunderstorms, landspout tornadoes form from the ground up. They're usually short-lived and weaker, but should still be taken seriously because they can pack winds of 100 miles per hour. Fortunately, no destruction or injuries were reported with this one in Phoenix.

"It's just unpredictable," said DeLand.

[RELATED: Funnel cloud spotted over Prescott Valley]

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