Chicago Weather

‘Cold air funnel clouds' possible in Chicago area Tuesday

The funnels rarely touch down, but could spin up as a cold air mass moves over the area

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NOTE: The video above is from a previous occurrence of "cold air funnels"

The Chicago area is at a ‘marginal’ risk of severe weather on Tuesday, but a unique phenomenon could potentially occur as a mass of cold air approaches the region.

According to the NBC 5 Storm Team and weather officials, there is a chance of “cold air funnels” during the afternoon and early evening hours across the Chicago area.

The funnel clouds typically form beneath showers or weak thunderstorms, rather than the supercell thunderstorms that typically spawn tornadoes, according to the National Weather Service.

Cold air aloft, swinging down through the area from the Upper Midwest, will allow warm air at the surface and in the lower levels of the atmosphere to rapidly rise, which is conducive to the formation of these types of funnel clouds.

Most cold air funnel clouds never touch down and remain aloft, according to officials. They are usually harmless, but on occasion they can touch down and generate wind speeds equivalent to that of an EF-0 tornado, up to 85 miles per hour.

The National Weather Service requests that the public take proper precautions if a funnel cloud is observed, but also asks for reports of such incidents, as the clouds are difficult to pinpoint on radar, according to officials.

More information can be found on the NWS website.

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