A Rare Tornado Touched Down in the Montana Mountains or Did It?
This amazing video of a massive mountain tornado, in Montana, was posted on YouTube on or around Tuesday 05/09/23.
A truly rare site. But not unprecedented.
Watch the video, below.
We are used to seeing twisters moving across the open planes.
So what the heck is this?
Somewhere in the Rocky Mountains of Montana a big sucker of a tornado roared across the mountain tops.
Yes, tornadoes can happen up there.
Don Day of Wyoming's Day Weather said that he thinks it's a "Cold Air Funnel."
Don says these twisters are common in May and June in these areas.
Cold air funnels form beneath showers or weak thunderstorms when the air aloft is especially cold.
The funnels are most common in the fall and spring when the sun is able to heat up the lower levels of the atmosphere, causing convection to bubble up and form showers, but temperatures around 15,000 to 20,000 feet above the ground are quite cold.
Cold air funnels are usually harmless, but on rare occasions they can touch down and cause EF-0 level (winds up to 85 mph) tornado damage. (NOAA).
A tornado like you see in this video is probably due to low level moisture and wind shear.
Wind shear is the sudden change in wind direction. Lower level wind going one way, upper level going another way.
It is usually not necessary for the National Weather Service to issue Tornado Warnings for cold air funnels since it is so rare for them to make it all the way to the ground and become a tornado. They are also difficult to detect on radar since they are very weak. Spotter and public reports are essential when cold air funnels are in the area. The NWS will usually issue a Special Weather Statement when cold air funnels have been reported. Of course, a Tornado Warning will still be issued if it is felt that a funnel will touch down. (NOAA).
The terrain in western Montana is the ignition for severe weather outbreaks.
It will force the air to move vertically, which creates lift.
The looming question many people have while watching this video is, JUST HOW BIG IS THAT SUCKER?
It's hard to get an idea of scale from way down here, looking up there.
Notice how much snow it's kicking around.
These events are rare.
Be glad somebody got it on video.