Video shows rarely seen weather phenomenon over Colorado lake

Brian Lada, WHAS
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PUEBLO, Colo. (WHAS) — One person was in the right place at the right time when a large, tornado-like funnel whirled in Colorado on the first wintry day of the season.

The video was recorded at Lake Pueblo in Pueblo, Colorado, on Thursday, Oct. 10 just after a vigorous cold front blasted through the region, causing temperatures to plummet and snow to fall for the first time since spring.

"I saw the water funnel on a drive. Thought it looked cool so I drove closer. Took some videos of it and some selfies and shared it to social media," Matthew Debski, who lives in Pueblo, said.

AccuWeather meteorologists believe that what Debski saw was a waterspout, a type of tornado that spins over water. However, it is possible that it could have also been another type of weather phenomenon known as a cold air funnel.

"Cold air funnels form beneath showers or weak thunderstorms when the air aloft is especially cold," the National Weather Service (NWS) explains in an article about what causes cold air funnels on its website. "The funnels are most common in the fall and spring."

Cold air funnels seldom extend all the way to the ground, but this may have been the rare case where one did touch down.

Another possibility is that what Debski saw was something known as a "steam devil" spinning in the cold Colorado air over the comparatively warm waters of Lake Pueblo.

A steam devil is "a small, gentle whirling column of saturated air of varying height, that forms when cold air is over a relatively much warmer body of water or saturated surface," according to the World Meteorological Organization.

"The definition [of a steam devil] is very similar to cold air funnel, although cold air funnels are always generated from a rain cloud, where steam devils are generally not," AccuWeather Social Media Manager Jesse Ferrell added.

Regardless of its official classification, the whirlwind put on a mesmerizing show for Debski over the snow-covered landscape before dissipating, and -- best of all -- it didn't leave behind any damage.

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