Looks Can Be “Deceiving” (a look at cold air funnels)
At first, this shot taken yesterday afternoon in Lawrence Co, MO (Credit KY3 TV) as strong storms rolled through, sent a wave of panic through the town after it was shared on social media.
A cold air funnel is a high-based area of weak circulation that occurs in a cool air mass, often just behind a cool frontal passage. The mixing of cool and windy conditions in the lower levels of the atmosphere with air in the upper levels flowing in a different direction may yield the rotation that spins up the funnel.
As you can see from other pics below, they are often very short hanging from the base of the parent cloud. They usually consist of fairly narrow funnels as well.
Photo courtesy of NWS Portland