Sunday, June 30, 2013

Macon County Funnel Clouds

A slow moving upper system currently meandering over the Midwest kicked off several showers and storms on Saturday. The item of most significance is that with the initial development of storms and especially the stronger ones, numerous cold air funnel clouds formed. I lost count of just how many genuine funnel clouds I observed. Factor in the scud fingers bearing "funnelish" characteristics and it's safe to say there was much to see in the skies across the region.

An early afternoon storm appearing healthy on radar got me out the door but was post mature on arrival.

The updraft base on convection going up to the east around 6:00 PM wasn't obscured by low cloud and thus a large funnel could be easily seen despite being approximately 12 miles away over the Macon/Piatt county border near I-72.

I would attempt to get closer via the interstate only to get cored for lack of exit. Driving south through heavy rain, I finally broke free at Dalton City. Thinking this cell might be done, I was treated to a massive lowering that only looks small due to wide angle distortion. Although it dissipated, decent rotation could still be observed in the upper levels. This storm was much more than a pulse shower.

Heading back north towards home and satisfied with the afternoon, while on 51 I noticed a new cell to the NW near I-72 W of Decatur. I was stunned to see rotation on velocity so I detoured at the 72/36 split and headed towards Niantic. My expression was one of absolute disbelief with what I was seeing cross the interstate from right to left. Below is an edited phone pic.

Pulling over just E of the Niantic exit, the wide angle might not have been the best choice for documentation but it was still incredible. The funnel was exhibiting very strong rotation and briefly drew fog/condensation up from the ground! I don't know if this constitutes as a touchdown and at no time did the exchange appear threatening but it was still an amazing sight. I believe a local surface outflow boundary ejected from the back of a cluster to pass through this location earlier may have been present and served as the mechanism for enhanced vorticity with this cell. Per the final image, the base became separated and lost much of its vigor as is typical once a storm has cleared a surface boundary. All in all a very interesting and unexpected event which seems to be the case around here lately.

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