JAMESTOWN, NY (WNY News Now) – A funnel cloud was spotted by storm chasers in Fredonia last night at roughly 11 p.m. though is not confirmed to have touched down.
Western New York has seen its fair share of storms this year between strong winds and heavy rains, and Wednesday night was no different.
An impressive display of lightning illuminated the sky and made it possible for storm chaser Mitch Bellinger and multimedia journalist Jackson Hickey to make out rotation in the clouds.
“We seen a funnel cloud, according to radar it didn’t really look like anything impressive but we seen what looked, I was pretty confident it was a funnel cloud. So we reported it, and they were investigating it,” explained Bellinger.
This specific storm was the product of two different cells converging.
“One thing we seen was that storm in Canada ended up kind of colliding with another storm coming out of the south so we believe that may have caused some rotation and luckily, thanks to the tremendous amounts of lightning last night, we were able to really see the cloud bases, which is where we ended up seeing a funnel,” said Bellinger.
In this case, it doesn’t appear a tornado actually formed, according to Chief Forecaster Dakota Hunter.
“Just because you see rotation doesn’t mean it’s a tornado. It’s not a tornado until it touches the ground, you need to have the right atmospheric conditions to get it to touch down,” said Hunter.
So far this year there has not been a confirmed tornado in Chautauqua County, however we have seen a good amount of severe weather.
“It really hasn’t been that bad, it’s just been when we’ve been getting the storms the winds seem to have been a little bit stronger and has caused some pretty significant damage across the region. This just goes to show how every season is different and you just have to take every season as it comes,” said Hunter.
In the end, having a good way to get weather warnings is crucial.
“This all happened really late, this is actually the second time within a month or so that we’ve had these really late storms. We were talking about warnings and a lot of people sleeping at night so we always say have a way to get your warnings. Follow Western New York News, our storm chase page, National Weather Service, anything like that and if storms are expected, leave your phone unsilenced that night just so you get those warnings,” said Bellinger.
When it comes to severe weather, while snapping pictures or taking a video is okay sometimes, safety is the top priority.
The National Weather Service offers free storm spotter classes, providing basic information on how to protect yourself from severe weather.
For more on the Skywarn program, check out weather.gov/buf/skywarn.