Extraordinary meteorological phenomenon: does snorkeling herald a catastrophe?

Every spring and summer, it is sometimes possible to see a small whirlpool hanging from the clouds. It can even be very impressive and give the impression that a tornado is about to touch the ground. This is a snorkel, a phenomenon that can actually be the beginning of a destructive event. But not always !

The snorkel, or funnel cloud, is actually the first phase of tornado formation. Under the most violent storm clouds (cumulonimbus) and sometimes under simple rain clouds (cumulus congestus), the base may rotate.

This requires a strong instability of the atmosphere, as well as wind shear. windswindsthat is, winds coming from directions and speedsspeeds different. A little whirlwindwhirlwind Then it can appear: it can be tiny and barely visible, or very extensive, almost touching the ground.

To qualify as a snorkel, this funnel must have a rotational motion. It can be easily confused with a fractus or pannus, a tear in the cloud that also descends towards the ground, but without motionmotion of rotation.

If the snorkel touches the ground, it becomes a twistertwister, which can happen in a matter of minutes. But the vast majority of the tubas seen remain suspended in theairairTherefore they are harmless and dissipate in a few moments.

Snorkeling is common in France on stormy days

In France, it is common to see snorkeling during the afternoon, when there is stormy weather or very active skies. They are most common in Normandy, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Charente-Maritime, Var and Aude.

Predicting the phenomenon is very difficult, but the risk of a snorkel appearing is always possible on a stormy day.

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