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Sacramento Weather: Difference Between A Funnel Cloud, Gustnado, and Tornado

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — In the last few months, viewers have sent in photos wondering if they saw a tornado, funnel cloud, or gustnado, and here is the difference between the three.

On Tuesday, a viewer sent a photo from their backyard to CBS13's Tracy Humphrey, saying they saw a funnel cloud.

After sending it to the National Weather Service, it was confirmed to be a gustnado.

As Tracy Humphrey explained, a funnel cloud is when you have rotation extending from a storm or cloud base. When that rotation extends to and hits the ground, it is considered a tornado.

A gustnado is still a swirl or an eddy; it is not part of the parent cloud. It is an independent eddy that swirls.

According to the National Weather Service, an eddy is swirling currents of air at variance with the main current.

The big difference is that the swirl that comes with a gustnado does not extend from the base of the cloud all the way down.

The wind swirls forming the eddy do not connect to a cloud base. If they did, it would be a funnel cloud.

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