Funnel cloud spotted during storms Wednesday afternoon; here's why

Funnel cloud spotted during storms Wednesday afternoon; here's why
two outflow boundaries converge Wednesday afternoon in Tipton Co
two outflow boundaries converge Wednesday afternoon in Tipton Co

TIPTON COUNTY, TN (WMC) - Heavy rain and thunderstorms developed over Memphis and parts of the Mid-South Wednesday due to an abundance of moisture in the atmosphere, extreme heat, and high instability.

The storms produced torrential rain, small hail, and strong, gusty winds in Memphis and even prompted the National Weather Service to issue two severe thunderstorm warnings for the storms. The storms also lead to a significant cool down from the extreme heat of the day, but just to the north of Memphis there were other storms that formed in Lauderdale and Tipton Counties.

Those storms did not reach severe limits; however, they did produce some heavy rain, gusty winds, and a scary sight in the sky over northern Tipton County just to the northwest of Covington.

A funnel cloud formed to the west of a thunderstorm that was moving south out of Lauderdale County.  Although the storms did not possess tornadic characteristics, there was still the eerie funnel in the sky. The funnel cloud was formed as a result of two outflow boundaries converging on each other.  An outflow boundary is produced when strong winds rush from the top of a thunderstorm to the ground and then spread out along the surface.

There was a outflow boundary that was spreading out from the storm moving into Tipton County, and that boundary intersected with an outflow boundary from another somewhat weaker storm to the west of Osceola, Arkansas. As those outflow boundaries converged, they created a brief spin in the atmosphere which in turn created the funnel cloud that was sighted in northwestern Tipton County.

This not a common sight, but it is always possible when two outflow boundaries converge.  There is typically no concern for damage as the rotation within this convergence is usually weak but, it can be enough to produce a bit of a scary site in the sky for those who witnessed it.

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