Possible tornado...

Feb 18, 2004
Montreal, Quebec, Canada

On august 1st we had a hell of a supercell over our area in Quebec. Two F2 tornadoes are now confirmed. I was chasing with my girlfriend and we saw this wall cloud far ahead and we could see a nice little funnel coming down from it.

The only way we got to get an image out of it, its in the form of a video still, I have contrasted the image to get a better look at it. It totally seems to touch down.. what do you think? This was night time so the funnel/tornado was illuminated by lightning.


Comments are welcomed
Gaetan, I watched your video and I got one thing to say....

Welcome to the nader club!!! I know this is your first from what you told me last night, so you must be pretty happy :)
May I play the naysayer for a moment Gaetan? I do this to myself, especially on stuff I catch at night, just because there can be so many lookalikes, so don't feel bad. Nighttime tornadoes, especially quick, small ones from a distance can be especially difficult to detect, even for the most experienced chasers.

Looking at the captures you had on the link you provided....sure does appear to be a funnel cloud. The part the makes my mind pause for question is the touching down. Let me explain why.

I note two sets of power poles in the images, one set appears to run along side the road (I am assuming you were on a road) and the other set appears to run out away from the road at possibly a 90 degree angle.

Anyway, in the first image in your series, you can see one of the distant poles just to the right of the closer pole, with the funnel feature just to the right of that.

In the second images, the funnel appears to move closer to the distant power pole, and both the distant power pole AND the funnel appear to move closer to the nearer power pole. This would be consistant with the vehicle moving down the road, with the closer features appearing to move "faster" the features that are farther away.

In the 3rd image in your series, both the funnel and the distant pole have moved to the left of the closer pole, which again, is constant with the vehicle traveling down the road and the nearer pole "moving by" the vehicle to the right.

It's in this image also that the funnel feature and that same distant power pole now appear to line up with one another, since that distant pole also would appear to move to the right faster than the distant funnel feature. This gives the impression of the funnel being complete to the ground.

This optical illusion is enhanced with the final image you posted, the one in this thread, which makes the distant pole to even more appear to be an extention of the funnel feature.

Anyway, that's my own personal diagnosis and opinion on it. Some frame captures after that last one as the car continued to move should be more definitive.

I often analyze stuff like this I get at night to this detail just because in many cases, after dark tornadoes, especially very brief ones can be very hard to distinguish from other features, such as cloud scud tags, closer clouds appearing to hang from clouds farther away. Lightning strobe effect ruines your distance perception at night. This is even further compounded by not having related things such as power flashes.
I agree with David, it does appear and is probably a funnel. It's possible it's on the ground as the condensation would be pretty far down (about 5/8ths). However, the picture shows a power pole which gives it the appearane of 'narrowing' and making contact with the surface. So it's possibly a tornado based on how low it is, but cannot be verified as such based on the photos alone. A damage track would prove it.

Either way a good catch!
As David these night time tornadoes/lookalikes are often difficult figure out. I still have some form May 31, 1999 in SW OK that I am not 100% sure about.



I would suggest surveying the area for tornado damage.

Scott Currens
David, thanks for your message, it sure opened my eyes even more!

Re looked at the footage and magnified even more the frame grab (the one published in this topic) I did and indeed there is a post overlayering the funnel. But there's still a few hints that tells me that it still might be a tornado.

But from what I can see the post seems to be slimmer than the funnel itself and if you look towards the ground it looks like the some sort of lifting of something at ground level, maybe dirt... who knows...

Concerning surveying for damage I don't think that would be possible... it probably happenned over farm land and if it did touch down it did for a second or two... so maybe there's not much to see... Anybody has a spare helicopter that I can borrow? That would make life a lot easier. :p

A sign of hope that I have is that I received an e-mail for someone that tells me that he saw the same tornado has I did... I'm waiting for an answer from him, if he has footage of it... I just hope so, it would probably clear things out!

Anyway, I'm also telling myself that we might never really know the truth...in any case I just consider myself to be lucky to have witnessed this beautifull event tornado or not.


PS: Today I received an e-mail from someone who's telling me that he saw the same tornado as I did, that's about all he said I replied to him asking if he has photos or video of it.. but I'm still waiting for a response so who knows!
David, thanks for your message, it sure opened my eyes even more!

Re looked at the footage and magnified even more the frame grab (the one published in this topic) I did and indeed there is a post overlayering the funnel. But there's still a few hints that tells me that it still might be a tornado.

You're real key here would be looking at the video frames over the next few seconds as the car continues to progress. That would allow the pole to mover further to the right in relation to the car and reveal exactly what the funnel feature was doing without being obscured.
Well, most video cameras have that ability. Anything you captured it in should be able to do that. What about what you used to capture those frame grabs?

I personally use Adobe Premier, but just about all NLE software on the market as far as I know should be able to do that.

My favorite is doing frame by frame on lightning. You often catch stuff your eye never saw because it was too bright and too fast.
My camcorder comes with a remote control, in which I can go frame by frame... so I would be assuming your's does too? Unless it's only the more recent models?

Dave did bring up a point though, I actually did think of the pole, but figured maybe it isn't a pole because it looks thicker than the pole before it... unless the pole under the funnel is closer to you than the one to the right hence making it thicker?