Several Funnel Clouds Spotted Over Windsor-Essex Tuesday


A scary afternoon for some local residents Tuesday as a number of funnel clouds were spotted over Windsor-Essex.

This prompted Environment Canada to issue a weather advisory, but senior climatologist David Phillips says, for the most part, funnel clouds are harmless.

Phillips says, if there was a threat of tornadoes developing, a watch or a warning would have been issued.

He says seeing a funnel cloud can be frightening.

"Funnel clouds are often a lot of more evident, a lot more numerous than tornadoes, but they have that scare to them because they look like a tornado. Really, what a funnel cloud is is a cloud. It's just full of condensed water vapour."

Phillips says funnel clouds rarely touch down.

"They get down and they do back up and then they just move along. It's threatening, but there's not any damage. If they do touch down they become a tornado, but it's what we describe as a land spout tornado. It's weak and small and short lived."

He says, if a funnel cloud does touch down, damage is often minor.

"I've seen funnel clouds that do touch down as a land spout tornado and they will take shingles off roofs, they will maybe tip over trees or toss a lot of debris around. So normally people aren't hurt or killed by them."

Phillips says if you do spot a funnel cloud don't panic, but keep your eyes on the sky.

Tuesday's funnel clouds were reported from AM800 listeners in Lakeshore, Essex, Kingsville and Leamington.

— with files from AM800's Patty Handysides