Sunny skies and warm temperatures in California took a drastic turn around 5:15 p.m. Wednesday, July 3, when a sudden downpour of rain mixed with pea-sized hail in some areas, and gusty wind was followed by tornado sirens due to reports of possible funnel cloud sightings in the area.
The funnel clouds turned out to be "cold air funnels" that don't touch down or produce severe weather, though they can look scary.
City of California Fire Chief Allen Smith said, "I was surprised when the sirens went off because there was no threat of a tornado in the area. I checked the news and weather and there was nothing. There were 15-18 calls to dispatch of possible funnel cloud sightings that were actually cold air funnels according to the Channel 13 News, which I'd never heard of."
Unlike a typical tornado, a cold air funnel is a minor circulation formed from condensation high up in the atmosphere. Change in wind direction can cause minor rotation, but there is no instability to turn it into a dangerous situation.
No damage was reported from the storm, though it literally hovered over Moniteau County for several hours before giving way to sunshine.