Meteorologists at the National Weather Service say that the weather event which looked like a tornado from a distance Monday afternoon was a funnel cloud in the Seacoast area.
Hunter Tubbs, who works for the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine, said Monday evening they consulted with meteorologists at their Norton, Mass., location and the forecasters agree that based on the images and videos they saw, the rotating column of wind extending from the base of a cloud did not touch the ground or water.
“The main difference between a funnel cloud and a tornado is a tornado actually touches the ground, where in a funnel cloud, it can rotate, have circulation and everything, but it doesn’t hit the ground,” Tubbs said.
Tubbs said they still do not know the exact location of the weather event, which occurred between 2:30 and 3 p.m., so that determination could change if they discover evidence of debris or obtain more documentation.
Meteorologists believe the event happened in the vicinity of Hampton, Seabrook and the Massachusetts communities of Salisbury and Newburyport, Tubbs said.
People were posting photos and video of the funnel cloud on social media Monday. Hampton resident Dustin Eager took a photo from his deck on Winnacunnet Road and posted it on the Friends of Hampton Beach Facebook page.
Amy Hansen of Hampton was one of the 68 people who had replied to Eager’s post by 6 p.m.
“Eeek. The sky got so dark and that weird green color and thought that looks like tornado weather!” Hansen wrote.
Jessie Flanzbaum of Salem, Mass., shared video from Island Path in Hampton of the funnel cloud on the same Facebook page and got 105 comments. She said the time was 2:52 p.m. when she started filming the minute-and-a-half long clip.
Funnel clouds are condensed water droplets wrapped up in a rotating wind column. They are considered to be a precursor of tornadoes.
Meteorologists say the funnel cloud seen on Monday was a relatively weak one based on the evidence they have seen.