One of the biggest ‘bad’ storm reporting trends I see are areas of spinning dust under a storm seemingly almost always ending up as a tornado report. This is irrespective of the broader context that said spinning area of dust exists within.

If there is an overarching message I’d like this video to get across it is simple: spinning dust under storms is VERY common. In fact, it should be expected. Storms, by their nature, are chaotic. They’re stormy! But those areas of spin under storms are only very rarely tornadoes.

Tornado lookalikes can fool even the most seasoned storm chasers, but there are some things you learn to look for with experience:

1)Context clues: Does this day even support tornadoes? Is this storm showing signs of tornado formation? Is the cloud base too high? Is it organized? What type of storm do we have here anyways?

2)Location! Spinning dust under a rapidly moving shelf cloud is probably *not* a tornado. Probably. An area of spinning dust along a surging RFD is similarly also probably not a tornado. Ditto for an area of spinning dust miles away from the updraft.

Either of these are important towards discerning tornado potential with storms. While sometimes a storm will absolutely surprise you, typically you have a decent idea going into a day that storms *could* be capable of a rogue tornado. And oftentimes, especially with supercells, there’s a pretty typical process that you see unfold in front of you whenever a storm is ramping up towards producing tornadoes.

Regardless, remember the next time you see spinning dust or other convincing tornado lookalikes either in person or via chaser reports, keep in mind the context clues and location of the feature. Both of these will go a long way in solving what type of atmospheric phenomena you are witnessing.

0:00 – 1:21 – Hello there!
1:22 – 2:21 – What is a tornado?
2:22 – 3:21 – Tornadic Supercell Basics
3:22 – 4:17 – Context Clues
4:18 – 4:54 – Example 1
4:55 – 5:46 – Example 2
5:47 – 6:35 – More Context Clues
6:36 – 7:15 – Example 3
7:16 – 7:45 – Example 4
7:46 – 8:32 – Location, Location!
8:33 – 8:59 – Example 5
9:00 – 9:57 – Weird Locations!
9:58 – 11:01 – Spinning Dust is Common


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