— ISLEY REUST (@isleyreust) May 9, 2023
A rare funnel cloud was spotted over snowy mountains in western Montana and, thankfully, quick-thinking onlookers filmed the event. Footage shot by Isley Reust has been making the rounds online and has viewers awestruck. The event occurred in Mission Valley around 5:30 p.m., as Reust was out doing yard work. She noticed the dark clouds forming and went inside, only to see a tornado appearing to form in the mountains.
While many people believe that tornados can't develop on mountains, the National Weather Service says that this is actually a myth. Though rare, there have been documented cases of tornados developing on top of mountains. In this case, what we're looking at isn't a full-blown tornado, but rather a funnel cloud.
What's the difference? Both are high-velocity columns of spinning air but have one striking difference. Tornados must touch the ground, while funnel clouds do not. In fact, funnel clouds can transform into tornados if they touch the ground or a waterspout if it touches down on water.
According to meteorologists, what we're looking at is a potential landspout tornado, which is weaker than a regular tornado but can still cause damage. Though the event was short-lived, it was long enough for everyone in the area to get a spectacular show.
A rare funnel cloud was spotted over snowy mountains in western Montana.