What’s the difference between a scud cloud, funnel cloud & tornado?

This week’s weather question comes from Jake Davis of Columbus.

He wants to know what the difference is between a scud cloud, funnel cloud and tornado.

A scud cloud can look like a funnel cloud but the two are very different.

Unlike a funnel cloud, a scud cloud has no rotation and therefore, cannot turn into a tornado. Scuds form in the downdraft below storm clouds (cumulonimbus) and although they look scary, are harmless.

Funnel clouds form in and extend from storm clouds. They have rotation and therefore, have the potential to form into dangerous tornadoes.

Only once the funnel cloud makes contact with the ground is it considered a tornado.

If you have your own science or weather question, send it to Meteorologist Carmen Rose at crose@wrbl.com.

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