Wet, cool June ends with funnel cloud near Charlie Lake

Tornadoes may be most often associated with the American Midwest, but that doesn't mean we don't get them in Canada too.

In fact, tornadoes have been recorded as far north as Inuvik, according to Environment Canada, and a small one came close to forming near Charlie Lake last weekend. 

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Fort St. John resident Geoff Bough spotted the funnel cloud forming near Charlie Lake on Saturday, June 30, and captured some photos before it quickly dissipated. 

It's a rare occurrence, but one not completely out of the ordinary, considering the weather that day, meteorologists say.

What was spotted is what's known as a cold core funnel cloud, caused by a cold, unstable air mass, with a weak rotation of air forming under rapidly growing clouds or weak thunderstorm.

"As air rises, it can get a rotation … and make dust devils or these funnel clouds that are associated with these cold, unstable air masses," meteorologist Doug Lundquist says.

These funnel clouds often form near bodies of water, but not always. If they touch the ground, they can be as strong as a "very weak tornado" and can cause damage, Lundquist says.

Big, strong tornadoes need a different kind of weather — hot, humid temperatures that help to form supercells, and the kind of conditions that create the strong storms that come with tornadoes.

"The really intense, really damaging tornadoes occur when it's really hot and humid, with a cold front moving in," Lundquist says.

A number of storm cells passed over Fort St. John on June 30, including two around 5 p.m. that kept an inbound flight from Vancouver circling the skies over the South Peace before being able to land. 

In Fort St. John, June 2018 was wetter than average, with 109 mm of rain recorded, above the monthly average of 66. 

Temperatures clung closer to average at 14.4 C for the month, with averages for June at 14.1 C.

Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at editor@ahnfsj.ca.

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