ALBANY, Ore. - A funnel cloud formed over Albany around noon Wednesday, the National Weather Service confirmed.
A second funnel cloud formed over Forest Grove, west of Portland.
Several people saw the clouds and shared photographs of the funnesl.
In response to a question posted on Facebook about the Albany cloud, the Weather Service responded, "Yes, there was a funnel cloud in Albany at about noon today."
Meteorologist Dave Salesky in Portland consulted with the National Weather Service, and they determined both were indeed weak funnel clouds.
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Usually, the easy way to explain funnel clouds is that they're tornadoes that don't reach the ground.
But not in the Northwest. Here, our funnel clouds are tornado imposters!
Almost all funnel clouds along the Pacific Coast are known as "cold core funnels" or "cold air funnels". They are different from typical devastating Midwest tornadoes in that these are spawned from non-severe storms and can occur when you get a tightly wrapped rush of rising air that can appear as a funnel.
They get their name from the usual pattern when you have a storm bringing much colder air into the higher altitudes -- a common occurrence around here in spring and fall.
Cold-core funnels rarely reach the ground, and if they do, are very weak. They are not all *that* rare with well-formed Convergence Zones -- especially in spring and autumn.
A tornado is a rapidly rotating vortex or funnel of air extending groundward from a cumulonimbus cloud. Tornadoes have been known to lift and move huge objects, destroy and move whole buildings long distances, and siphon large volumes from bodies of water.
Tornadoes occur in spring when warm, moist air collides with cold air resulting in winds rotating at very high speeds in a counter clockwise direction. Approximately 1,000 tornadoes are spawned by thunderstorms each year nationwide.
Tornado events are rare in Oregon. Between 1950 and 1995, there were 50 tornadoes recorded, most rated F0 (light damage) or F1 (moderate damage) on the Fujita scale. The Fujita scale assigns numerical values based on wind speeds and categorizes tornadoes from 0 to 5.
There is no record of death or injury due to a tornado in Oregon.
Take cover immediately.
Move to an interior room on the lowest floor of a sturdy building.
If in a mobile home, a vehicle or outdoors, move to the closest substantial shelter and protect yourself from flying debris.
Tornadoes can basically strike anywhere. However they tend to follow the path of least resistance. People living in valleys, which normally are the most highly developed areas, have the greatest exposure.
Big tornadoes can lift and move very heavy objects for a long distance. Tornadoes can generate a tremendous amount of debris, which can become airborne shrapnel causing additional damage. Tornadoes are almost always accompanied by heavy precipitations.
Other hazards that accompany weather systems that produce tornadoes include rainstorms, windstorms, large hail, and lightning.
The National Weather Service evaluates each major tornado to determine the accuracy of its predictions and identifications based on weather data obtained from radar and other sources, local tornado spotters, emergency operations personnel, law enforcement agencies, and the general public. The NWS goal is to improve its ability to warn affected populations.
Sources: Oregon Office of Emergency Management, National Weather Service