Landspout Caught on Video South of Phoenix Amid Weekend of Severe Weather

by Samantha Whidden
(Photo credit: Getty)

Amid some severe weather over the weekend, the residents south of Phoenix, Arizona managed to see a landspout.

According to Fox Weather, witnesses managed to get videos that show the landspout touching down in a Sun Lakes’ field just before 4 p.m. on Sunday (October 16th). At the time, the National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm warning along 1-10. 

Fox Weather states that a landspout is a type of tornado that has a narrow condensation funnel. It forms while thunderstorms are still building. This type of tornado doesn’t have rotation updrafts, unlike more damaging tornadoes. Instead, their spin motion form near the ground. It then moves its column of air upward into a cumulus cloud. 

The National Weather Service tweeted, “The landspout that was spotted is likely a cold air funnel that briefly reached the ground. These can form beneath relatively small storms when there is instability due to surface warmth under very cold air aloft… like we have today over Arizona.”

It was noted that there are two types of tornadoes. They are those that associate with supercell thunderstorms and those that are not. The ones that are not are dubbed landspouts. “A tornado that does not arise from organized storm-scale rotation and therefore is not associated with a wall cloud (visually) or a mesocyclone (on radar),” the National Weather Service explains. “Landspouts typically are observed beneath Cbs or towering cumulus clouds (often as no more than a dust whirl), and essentially are the land-based equivalents of waterspouts.”

The landspout seen near Phoenix reportedly did not cause any damage. The storm quickly passed through the area without any real issues. 

National Weather Service Meteorologist Says a Landspout is ‘A Weak Tornado’ 

AZCentral reports that a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Phoenix explained that a landspout is known as a “weak tornado.”

The type of tornado is a “subset” of the larger tornados that form closer to the ground. Although the National Weather Service is unsure of the exact wind speed of the Phoenix landspout, it was named an EFo. This is considered the weakest of tornadoes with wind speeds between 40 and 72 mph. 

Meanwhile, the National Weather Service stated that the landspout seen in Sun Lakes was likely a cold air funnel. These form under small storms when the surface temperatures are much warmer than the air above. Luckily, it was noted those living in the valley are likely to not see another landspout this week. This is due to a high pressure system moving through the valley area. This will bring highs in the mid-80s to the low-90s. 

“These can form beneath relatively small storms,” the National Weather Service.  “When there is instability due to surface warmth under very cold air aloft… Like we have today over Arizona.”