Cloud funnel over Buller raises eyebrows
FOLLOWING the earthquake on September 22 which measured 5.9 on the moment magnitude scale, local residents raised their eyebrows with a mix of interest and concern following the sighting of a spiral cloud formation which appeared over Mount Buller last week.
The strange sight came just before a tornado hit the Horsham area in regional Victoria and only days after Bathurst in NSW experienced similar.
In Bathurst, significant damage to homes and power lines occurred, and three people were injured.
Mansfield locals posted photos to the community notice board from various vantage points around town.
Julie Hobbs joked: “The earthquake didn’t work so
Dan’s bringing out the tornados for stage six.”
Jake Pollard posed a more likely scenario saying: “That’s a funnel, the start of a tornado.
“If it hit the ground it becomes a tornado.”
The Bureau of Meteorology describes tornadoes as a violently rotating column of air in contact with land or water.
Tornadoes range in diameter from metres to hundreds of metres - some are even wider than a kilometre - and can last from a few seconds up to half an hour or longer.
They have an intense updraught near their centre, which is why they can lift heavy objects such as cars and trees as well as cause enormous damage.
Strong tornadoes occur with severe thunderstorms, mostly supercells.
The key conditions for the formation of a stronger tornado are very humid air below the cloud base and strong wind shear in the lowest kilometre of the atmosphere, ie turning and strengthening of the environmental winds with height.
The majority of the world’s tornadoes occur along ‘tornado alley’ in the USA and Canada, and cause a significant amount of damage.
Australia experiences around 120 tornadoes each year, but due to our widespread and relatively sparse population, they’re often missed or not reported.
Had it landed in the Mansfield Shire and headed towards metropolitan Melbourne, Merton local Mary Maude astutely pointed out that “it might be another reason for Victorians to leave home”.