Tornado sirens were activated Saturday afternoon, Aug. 3, when trained weather spotters reported a funnel cloud north of Dallas and south of Barron.
The funnel cloud was spotted around 4:43 p.m., near Almena, according to Barron County Sheriff’s Department dispatch logs and Barron County Emergency Management.
Photos posted on social media showed a wormlike funnel cloud extending down from the cloud base. Only when funnel clouds touch the ground do they become tornadoes, and this one did not appear to touch the ground or cause any damage, according to dispatch logs.
The funnel cloud sighted could be a “cold air funnel,” which form, beneath showers or weak thunderstorms high above the ground, according to the National Weather Service. Usually, they stay high up.
“Cold air funnels are usually harmless, but on rare occasions, they can touch down and cause EF0 level (winds up to 85 mph) tornado damage,” the NWS said. They form when there is a mass of cold air high up and wind shear, causing rotation.
It is difficult to predict and detect cold air funnels with Doppler radar and tornado warnings are usually not issued for them.
Brian Gilles snapped a photo of the funnel cloud as it was dissipating back up into the cloud, near the 1700 block of 11th Avenue, near Wickware, around 5 p.m.
“It had been vertical moments earlier with full rotation, so definitely not a cold-air cloud but a funnel cloud,” Gilles said. It never touched down, but hung above his house for a minute around 5 p.m., he said.
Fortunately that storm was weak, but this makes for the third week in a row that tornado-like weather has occurred in Barron County.