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No. 106: Jul-Aug 1996

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Looking Up Into A Tornado Funnel

January 21, 1992. Near Cripple Creek, Colorado. Shortly after 2 PM, while fishing at Skagway Reservoir, D. Mc Gown spotted an ominous cloud formation developing in the west. A horizontal, black cloud rolled toward him. Suddenly, it lifted to reveal a huge, twisting funnel advancing directly at him. He threw himself to the ground, but got a good look up into the interior of the funnel.

"The outside of the tornado was spinning so fast my eye couldn't follow it, but the inside was rotating almost lazily. I could see a thousand feet up inside it. Tiny fingers of lightning lined the hollow tube."

Passing over him, the funnel bounced across the lake, ripped up some trees, and was gone.

(McGown, Dennis; "Letters," Time, 147: 8, June 10, 1996)

Comment. The "tiny fingers of lightning" are of great interest to anomalists, because most meteorologists deny that electricity plays any part in tornado activity. Of course, there is often plenty of ordinary lightning in the accompanying storms. An observation very similar to McGown's occurred in Kansas, in 1928. (GLD10-X2 in Lightning, Auroras. For information on this book, visit here.)

Today, American meteorological journals are mostly filled with articles on the computermodelling of weather systems, satellite-imaging, etc. Eyewitness accounts of unusual phenomena were common 100 years ago in the science journals. Now, we have to get them from Time!

From Science Frontiers #106, JUL-AUG 1996. 1996-2000 William R. Corliss