The National Weather Service offers its take on the weird, spinning column of air that descended over suburban Virginia late in September.
- A 'something' appeared in Warrenton, Va., skies on Sept. 29. Not surprisingly, this picture was retweeted by user NewUFO. (Photo courtesy of Kathy in Warrenton)
On Sept. 29, a slowly rotating, wormlike cloud drifted out of the skies to alarm a few locals near Warrenton, Va. One ABC7 viewer captured it in mid-descent as it was doing its best tornado impression but, as Doug Hill and Bob Ryan decided afterward, it was probably not an actual twister. It was more likely a wet updraft, or as Ryan alarmingly dubbed it, a "scary moist updraft."
Now the National Weather Service has offered its two cents. Christopher Strong, who works out of the department's Sterling office, passed the photograph among his colleagues and found what might as well be the Warrenton worm's long-lost twin. This photo came from the La Crosse, Wisc., branch of the NWS:
Strong calls the two photos "eerily similar," noting the "same ill-defined/ragged edges of the cloud." The above photo was apparently used to train budding meteorologists on what a tornado did not look like, so think of this cloud as more of a nornado. (The caption indicates the cloud formed in Guttenberg, Iowa, which is within the purview of the La Crosse NWS.)
For true weather geeks out there, Strong also forwarded the radar capture around the time of the above cloud formed. He says it resembles the radar from Warrenton on Sept. 29: