FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Meteorologists with Environment Canada say they’re almost completely certain that a funnel cloud appeared in the skies over the Fort St. John area this past long weekend.
On Saturday, a series of photos were posted on a local Facebook group by resident Geoff Bough showing a rope-shaped cloud descending from one of the large thunderstorms that swept across the Fort St. John area that afternoon.
Meteorologist Doug Lundquist said that after examining the series of photos, he’s almost certain that the phenomenon that was photographed was most likely a funnel cloud that may have, had it reached the ground, spawned a weak tornado.
“These kinds of things do happen. Sometimes these kinds of funnel clouds can result in very weak tornadoes. They don’t usually do much damage, but we should be aware of them and be careful of them.”
Lundquist said that while tornadoes are often associated with a large rotating thunderstorm known as a supercell, the type of funnel cloud spawned by the thunderstorms seen on Saturday are caused by something else entirely.
“When we get a really cold airmass like we had on the weekend, we can get these kind of rotations that happen and create these funnel clouds or very weak tornadoes. This is from a more cold and chaotic atmosphere.”
According to Lundquist, these types of funnel cloud sightings are, while not common, not particularly rare in B.C., with a funnel cloud or possible tornado having been photographed in Fort St. John nearly five years ago. Other funnel clouds and minor tornadoes have also been reported in the Okanagan and in even near Vancouver in recent years.
Lundquist added that Fort St. John and the rest of the Peace Region could be in store for more thunderstorms on this week, before a ridge of high pressure brings sunny skies and slightly above seasonal temperatures to the area starting this weekend.