CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Tuesday, we had a unique kind of funnel cloud over our area. It’s called a “cold air” funnel.
These are harmless and are not a sign of tornado, and they rarely if ever make it to the ground.
They tend to form when we have mid to upper-level low-pressure systems overhead, which we did Tuesday. These mid and upper lows tend to have cooler air aloft. Thus, the name 'cold air funnels.'
They form on cumulus clouds or even showers that form under the mid or upper-level low.
The rotation is weak but enough to get things spinning. The atmosphere is a dynamic fluid and just like a tiny whirlpool might form in a stream or leaves swirls around on a breezy day.
These cold air funnels can form. They look ominous at times but are usually just a novelty and can certainly scare you into thinking something more is going on.