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Rare sighting of funnel cloud in Klamath County

There was little wind, so the National Weather Service decided not to issue any tornado watches or warnings.

Posted: Aug 12, 2019 5:40 PM
Updated: Aug 14, 2019 5:18 AM

KLAMATH COUNTY, Ore. -- On Saturday, people in Klamath County reported seeing a wind funnel around 2 p.m. Some were worried that they were never warned about a tornado.

Multiple people took to social media over the weekend to share pictures and videos of the funnel cloud. Many wondering why there was never a tornado watch or warning issued for their area. NewsWatch12 sat down with officials at the National Weather Service to find out why because watches and warnings are issued through them.

Charles Smith, National Weather Service official, said, "There is pretty strong distinctions between a strong tornado and what we saw."

On Saturday, Smith said the cold air in the skies mixed with the warmer ground below, creating the funnel cloud. There was little wind, so they decided not to issue any tornado watches or warnings. Instead they issued a special weather statement, which Smith describes as a statement to used for weather "stronger than nothing, but not strong enough to be serious".

Smith said if they do see a thunderstorm with a cold air funnel, that's when they would issue a tornado warning because the funnel would be more likely to produce strong winds above 60 miles-per-hour and touch the ground.

"The environment could produce colder funnels, but it's not appropriate to issue a tornado watch because it's just rare for them to actually touch the ground and it's very hard to anticipate," Smith explained. "I would say the interesting fact here is that we got one in the summer when the air was pretty cold, I mean that's a little unusual especially in the Klamath/Lake County area."

Smith said these are normally seen near the coast over the ocean during fall and winter. So if you were one the people who spotted this funnel cloud over the weekend, consider yourself lucky - it's a rare sight. 

There has been one confirmed tornado in Klamath county this year during May. The tornado briefly touched down near Sprague River. This was the first tornado to touch down in Southern Oregon since one near Lakeview in 2005.

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