August Tornadoes Part 2: Landspout or Tornado

It may be confusing to hear us talk about landspouts and tornadoes, as though they are different.  Landspouts are in the tornado family, but I like to call them "wannabe's".  The tornadoes ( landspouts ) that developed near Parker and Castle Rock on Sunday August 24th, were produced by Non-Supercell Thunderstorms.  There is a distinct difference and the definition of a landspout follows:    LANDSPOUT A small, weak tornado, which is not formed by a storm-scale rotation. It is generally weaker than a supercell tornado and is not associated with a wall cloud or mesocyclone.  Below is a classic example of a landspout:

Many landspouts are only visible because of the dirt or debris that they are stirring up at the ground.  Then as the landspout continues to suck dirt or debris skyward, the full funnel will become visible.  Notice there is no discernible funnel or wallcloud near the cloud base.  This is a clear sign this is a landspout, and not a supercell tornado. 

Below are photos of the landspouts that plagued the Parker and Castle Rock area:

Again in the pictures above, there is no wallcloud.  Unless the landspout gets debris into the circulation and sends it up into the air, the funnel won't be visible.  Most Colorado tornadoes are landspouts.  However on rare occasion, we can see big Supercell Tornadoes like the late May Windsor tornado ( picutured below ).

This is the type of tornado you would normall find in the Plains or Midwest.  Fortunately, we don't see too many of these type of tornadoes in Colorado.

Chief Meteorologist Brian Bledsoe




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