Cold air funnels: what are they and should we worry?

Jun 15, 2023, 4:00 PM | Updated: 4:23 pm

Cold air funnel in Utah County....

Cold air funnel seen in Lehi. Photo Credit: Alex Gold

LEHI, Utah —  On Thursday morning a cold air funnel was seen in Lehi as drivers headed into work. And while they are an anomaly, (cold air funnels don’t typically make an appearance in Utah) for the most part, they are fairly harmless.


According to the National Weather Service, cold air funnels can form in mild thunderstorms and rain showers – the exact type of weather that northern Utah has been experiencing. They form when there is warm air at lower altitudes and colder air above the clouds. 

“No, it is not a tornado, but has some similarities,” said KSL Meteorologist Matt Johnson. And he said there’s no need to worry about them.

Ninety-nine percent of the time they do nothing. They just don’t have the dynamical support that a real tornado has.”

Funnels form when cold air travels over warm land, according to Johnson. Tornadoes form in very strong thunderstorms. Additionally, funnels are created with an updraft of air moving in different directions and tornadoes have the “whole cloud base spinning with a lot of power,” according to Johnson. 

A funnel does not become a tornado unless it touches the ground.  And even then, the World Meteorological Organization said, the resulting tornado will have low wind speed.

Keep your eyes peeled, Johnson said. Northern Utahns may see more of these cold air funnels as this weather pattern persists. Just know that if you do see one, they are not a cause for alarm.

Related reading:

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.


A view of the state Capitol and the Salt Lake City skyline....

Andrew Gordon

High temps bring warnings and ozone problems to Utah

Utah's high temperatures have brought on the hottest day of the year so far in the state, along with warnings and ozone issues.

57 minutes ago

new baby gorilla at Hogle Zoo, Addo (Hogle Zoo)...

Diana Jones

Hogle Zoo announces name of baby gorilla

The Hogle Zoo has announced the newest addition to their gorilla family, Addo. Mom and baby are reported to be doing well. 

2 hours ago

Utah is flirting with triple-digit weather this weekend and as tempting as it may be police say to ...

Josuee Sanchez

Stay away from fast-moving water this summer

Utah is flirting with triple-digit weather this weekend and as tempting as it may be police say to stay away from fast-moving water.

3 hours ago

This combo image shows President Joe Biden, left, Jan. 5, 2024, and Republican presidential candida...

Heather Peterson

Presidential election approaches, and Utah has donated more to Biden

As the 2024 presidential election approaches, donations for President Joe Biden's campaign in Utah are outpacing those of Donald Trump.

4 hours ago

On Monday morning, a fiery rollover crash off state Route 210 in Little Cottonwood Canyon closed th...

Brittany Tait, KSL TV

Unified police officer rescues driver from burning semi in Little Cottonwood

On Monday morning, a fiery rollover crash off state Route 210 in Little Cottonwood Canyon closed the road for hours.

7 hours ago

Rendering of a proposed "revitalization" district surrounding a renovated Delta Center. Salt Lake C...

Carter Williams, KSL.COM

Salt Lake’s Delta Center zoning changes meet opposition from Planning Commission

A "sports, entertainment, culture and convention district" by the Delta Center, the plan was met with swift opposition.

7 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Underwater shot of the fisherman holding the fish...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Your Bear Lake fishing guide

Bear Lake offers year-round fishing opportunities. By preparing ahead of time, you might go home with a big catch!

A group of people cut a purple ribbon...


Comcast announces major fiber network expansion in Utah

Comcast's commitment to delivering extensive coverage signifies a monumental leap toward a digitally empowered future for Utahns.

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.


Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

Cold air funnels: what are they and should we worry?