small tornado

iStock / Getty Images Plus

Those weren't tornadoes over NJ and Delaware — they were cold air funnels

July 24, 2019 - 7:58 am

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — While Monday's storms mostly left the people of South Jersey nothing but headaches, with power outages, toppled trees and flooding, Mother Nature did provide a pretty unusual sight Tuesday night.

The National Weather Service says, while they may have looked like tornadoes, what people were looking at along the New Jersey and Delaware coasts are known as cold air funnels.

Meteorologist Sarah Johnson says they were a direct result of the recent storms.

"Because these showers were over relatively warm water, and we had just a little bit of churning of the winds with height, we had these cold air funnels out of these showers," she said.

Johnson says what makes a cold air funnel different from a tornado or a water spout is that those two events bring a strong thunder storm along with them. Cold air funnels are usually short-lived and rarely make contact with the ground. If they do, they can cause some minor damage, but it would be nothing on the level of a tornado. 

Johnson says the National Weather Service did have one report of a cold-air funnel turning into a water spout over the Chesapeake Bay, but it didn't lead to any damage.