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Funnel cloud reported in Judith Basin County

Funnel cloud in Judith Basin County (July 6, 2022)
Posted at 11:33 AM, Jul 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-07 13:50:08-04

On Wednesday, July 6, there were several observations of a funnel cloud near Raynesford and Geyser in Judith Basin County.

At the time the funnel cloud was spotted, a severe thunderstorm was passing through the area with quarter-sized hail and wind up to 60 mph.

For a funnel cloud to form, there needs to be air spinning horizontal in relation to the ground, which is typically caused by wind shear. Wind shear is when there is a difference in wind speed and/or wind direction with height over a relatively short distance.

When the thunderstorm moved over this spinning air, it stretched the spinning air out into a vertical column. The rotation of the air then increases, and condensation begins to occur, which forms the funnel cloud.

Funnel cloud in Judith Basin County (July 6, 2022)
Funnel cloud in Judith Basin County (July 6, 2022)

If a funnel cloud actually makes contact with the ground, then it becomes a tornado.

Montana's tornado season generally spans from late May through early August. Most Montana tornadoes are relatively small and usually touch down in sparsely-populated areas – but not always.

In 2016, an EF-3 tornado hit the town of Baker in southeast Montana. In 2015, a small tornado hit near Sidney in Richland County in eastern Montana, injuring one person and causing some damage. In June 2010, a tornado hit Billings, causing significant damage to the MetraPark facility. Just several weeks later, two people were killed when a tornado struck a family ranch near Reserve in northeastern Montana.