NWS says Monroe funnel cloud did not touch down


by OWEN LEI / KING 5 News & KING5.com staff


Posted on June 4, 2010 at 5:41 PM

Updated Saturday, Jun 5 at 1:32 PM

MONROE, Wash. - The National Weather Service says they have found no evidence that a funnel cloud spotted near Monroe on Friday afternoon touched down.

According to the NWS report, a survey team visited the area and talked with witnesses.

"Despite the impressive photos and videos, the team found no evidence the funnel touched down near the honor farm just south of the Monroe Correctional Facility," the report said.

They say the funnel was visible for close to 10 minutes, and a second, almost horizontal funnel cloud also appeared as the initial one dissipated, but lasted for only about a minute.

KING 5 viewers sent in several photos of the rare weather event, at least, rare for the area.  After viewing the photos, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration confirmed it was indeed a funnel cloud.

"It was a mile of so off the side of the road," said Jeff Knecht, who saw the funnel forming as he was driving home to Monroe on Highway 522. "My wife said, 'Hey look over there, looks like a tornado.'"

The funnel appeared just after 5 p.m., witnesses said.  Amateur estimates put the width of the cloud at a hundred yards or more.

"A lot of people in the highway started pulling over and kind of getting out of the cars and just staring at it," said Monroe resident Don Thompson.

Kacie Brown was in the car with her sister and newborn infant when she saw the funnel reaching out of the sky towards a nearby field.

"Sure enough, to the right hand side is a huge funnel cloud," Brown said. "It was scary, you could see the wind moving around in it."

Witnesses say the cloud formed for about five minutes, then lifted back up into the sky.

"It wasn't hitting the ground the we could see," she added, "but it was close."

Brown's sister Whitney Whelock said she's never seen anything like it.

"I was kind of in shock," Whelock said, "You see the little tumble ones in Eastern Washington, with the dirt, and [this one] was just huge."

There were no reports of any injuries or damage.