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Autumn Season Wonders: Cold Air Funnels

It’s that time of year again where we start to see shifts in the weather patterns. From warm and toasty temperatures to cool and breezy temperatures. During autumn, it is common to have sudden shifts in the patterns as the result of the jet stream beginning to move south. However, behind some cold fronts here in the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley, we are often left behind with additional showers that usually form from cold air aloft. Usually, when we get a strong cold front, this may occur. However, there are times where aloft can also contribute to cold air funnels forming within rain showers.

Cold air funnel that is touching down in an open field. (Photo: Chad Evans)


What are Cold Air Funnels?
Cold air funnels are funnels that form within showers and weak thunderstorms, especially with cold air aloft. These can usually occur during spring months and fall months of the year. Cold air funnels are known for being primarily weak since most air funnels that touch down are EF0’s but in some cases they can reach EF1 or larger strength.

The darker shades of blue and purple on the map detect where the cold air aloft is that initiated cold air funnels on September 25, 1994. (Photo: NWS)


Facts about Cold Air Funnels
Cold air funnels are known for being primarily weak since most air funnels that touch down are EF0’s but in some cases they can reach EF1 or larger strength. Another shocking revelation is that most air funnels that form often don’t touch the ground. However those that do touch the ground may do considerable damage. Cold air funnels are also difficult to pinpoint on radar since they are usually weak and often don’t touch down.

Cold air funnel that has not touched down. (Photo: NWS)

Cold Air Funnels in Muncie?
There have been instances of cold air funnels forming in or near Muncie. The last documented case of a cold air funnel in Muncie was as recent as last year on June 17, 2019. The cold air funnel formed at around 6:49pm, as the result of a little rotation in the atmosphere and cold air aloft which produced some instability showers and storms.

Cold air funnel that formed near Muncie on June 17, 2019. (Source: StarPress)


Are Cold Air Funnels Dangerous?
Cold air funnels are usually harmless especially when they aren’t touching the ground but if they were to touch down, they would be considered as dangerous enough to cause considerably damage.

Damage from a cold air funnel that touched down in east Tennessee. (Source: WBIR)


Conclusion
Cold air funnels are something that can be really cool to get a glance of. Although, they make look pretty scary and ominous, they are pretty enjoyable to glance at from a distance.

Sources
https://www.thestarpress.com/story/news/local/2019/06/17/tornado-sirens-sound-muncie-funnel-cloud-spotted-police/1483634001/
https://www.weather.gov/lmk/cold_air_funnel

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