Mother's Day weather produces funnel cloud near Lake Erie shoreline in Wickliffe

CLEVELAND - It wasn't the best Mother's Day weather-wise this past weekend.

Unseasonable-cold air spilled southward across northern Ohio Saturday night. By daybreak Sunday, many folks from Cleveland eastward awoke to a line of gusty winds, heavy rain and pea-sized hail. 

"It hailed for a full 30 minutes Sunday morning," said Kay Johnson of Jefferson in Ashtabula County.

Dave Payne of University Heights awoke to a roof and driveway covered by hail and graupel (wet snow).

"It's so unusual to see this kind of weather without a big thunderstorm nearby."

Many of you reported icy conditions Sunday morning. The hail piled up on the highways and even caused a few traffic spin-outs.

Even more incredible was what Matt Martin saw spinning near his Wickliffe neighborhood that day. It was a funnel cloud.

Matt captured the sight and sent us the photo. You can clearly see the funnel dropping down from a very dark cloud near the Lake Erie shoreline. Hail can be seen falling from the funnel in the picture.

This was not a tornado Matt saw. It is known as a cold air funnel. It's a distant cousin of the more dangerous twister.

Cold air funnels develop in colder air masses. They are caused by cool, blustery air at the surface, mixing with air several thousand feet higher in the sky that just happens to be blowing in a different direction. The changing wind direction with height causes the air to start spinning. If the air is moist enough, a funnel will become visible. 

Cold air funnels may look dangerous, but they do not normally reach the ground. Unlike tornadoes, they do not require a severe thunderstorm to form. Tornado warnings are not issued for cold air funnels.

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