Tropical funnel in Lincoln County Monday afternoon

Now and then you’ll see something on a humid, stormy afternoon like this.  It’s *likely* a tropical funnel.  Amanda Payne sent us this photo her husband snapped of a funnel near Kelso, Tennessee around 5:10 PM Monday:

Amanda Payne: Kelso, Tenn. Tropical funnel on 9/24/18

What’s a tropical funnel you say?

Tropical funnels form in warm, moist environments with very little wind shear.

Wind shear is the changing wind speed and direction with height; the wind starts out from the southeast at the surface and turns to the southwest at about 4,000 feet above the ground.  It’s also blowing a little faster at 4,000′ than it is at the ground.

This is what it looked like from the radar at Hytop in Jackson County around 5:17 PM (roughly the time this occurred):

Tropical funnels do not usually pose the same risks that funnel clouds from supercell storms do. Tropical funnels rarely touch the ground and usually only last a few minutes. In the rare case that they do reach the ground, they can produce winds up to 70 mph.  This one looks like it might have come close to touching the ground, but the first rule of storm spotting is always only report what you know.  In this case, we can’t see the ground – and Amanda’s husband said the rotation was slow and weak – so we assume that it did not touch down (unless we get a report stating otherwise).

You can always track heavy storms with’s Interactive Radar or swipe over to the radar feature on Live Alert 19! The new Live Alert 19 also gives you new alerts that might tip you off to a storm’s strength even if it does not rise to the level of being defined as ‘severe’ with a formal Severe Thunderstorm Warning from the National Weather Service.

Looking for the forecast? It’s always online at and in the “Daily Forecast” section on Live Alert 19!

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