Funnel clouds

In this article we find out more about funnel clouds.

A funnel cloud is a cone-shaped cloud which extends from the the base of a cloud towards the ground without reaching the ground.

They are formed in the same way as a tornado (see 'How tornadoes are formed') building around a localised area of intensely low pressure and are typically associated with the formation of cumulonimbus cloud (also known as thunderstorm clouds).

Crucially, a funnel cloud does not reach the earth's surface, at the point it reaches land it becomes a tornado, or if it reaches a body of water it becomes a waterspout.

Funnel cloud near Manitoba by Justin Hobson (2007) Funnel cloud near Manitoba by Justin Hobson (2007)

Last updated: 5 August 2014