CARTERVILLE (WSIL) -- As the remnants of Hurricane Barry moved through the Midwest, there were multiple reports of funnel clouds throughout central and southern Illinois. Tropical systems that move inland have a tendency to produce funnels along with occasionally producing weak tornadoes.
As their name implies, "tropical" funnels are found in tropical environments, typically in remnants of hurricanes or tropical storms. Often times, tropical funnels are found in showers that don't resemble a "classic" tornado producing storm. According to the National Weather Service, meteorologists have a basic understanding in how these funnel clouds develop, but the entire process is not entirely understood.
Funnel clouds are caused by spin in the atmosphere, which is called directional wind shear. Under the right conditions, air can begin to spin, and as it spins faster, it also shrinks. This shrinking air then condenses and can become a funnel cloud. Think of spinning a football horizontally, but as it spins faster and faster, it begins to stand up vertically.
It's important to note that a funnel cloud is not considered to be a tornado until it touches the ground. Tropical funnels can touch down and cause minor damage, though it is rare.
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