When severe storms move into our area, some may glance up at the sky to see what’s coming our way. Once in a while, you may catch a cloud that appears to be lowering towards the ground and think it’s a funnel cloud. Not so fast, it might actually be SCUD cloud.
SCUD clouds may look like funnel clouds, but they actually form much differently. They form in areas of increase relative humidity as air rises in a thunderstorm.
The term SCUD is actually an acronym standing for “Scattered Cumulus Under Deck”.
While they look ominous, SCUD clouds are harmless and do not produce severe weather.
The biggest differences between a SCUD cloud & a funnel cloud are SCUD clouds DO NOT rotate and they are often detached from the bottom of the thunderstorm!
Unlike SCUD clouds, funnel clouds develop from a rotating updraft and are connected to the base (or bottom) of the thunderstorm.
A funnel cloud is not a tornado unless it touches the Earth’s surface. Therefore, a tornado can be a funnel cloud but not all funnel clouds are tornadoes.
One trick to tell a funnel cloud from a SCUD cloud is if the cloud features on the edges are smoothed. Funnel clouds are smooth due to the rotation, while SCUD clouds are not smooth.
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