Tornado vs funnel clouds. Can you tell the difference?

This week, a small funnel cloud was spotted near Florence. (Source: 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!

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

CBS 5 This Morning Meteorologist

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