Funnel Cloud Photographed Over County Antrim

Antrim funnel cloud. Image Martin McKenna. Click on image to enlarge.
The Meteo Times (TMT) has received images of a funnel cloud (possible tornado) which formed in the skies over County Antrim on Tuesday afternoon (21 August 2012). 

A funnel cloud is a rapidly rotating funnel-shaped cloud extending downward from the base of a cumulonimbus cloud, which, if it touches the surface of the earth, is classified as a tornado.

Martin McKenna emailed TMT with these dramatic shots of the funnel cloud which was visible from 4.30pm to 4.35pm. Martin captured the images from Maghera in County Derry, looking east towards County Antrim. The funnel cloud formed under the flanking region of a thunderstorm some 10-20 miles away. 

"The funnel was visible from 16.20 to 16.35 BST and was a gorgeous sight in full sunshine.  This scene made my storm season!," Martin told TMT.


According to Martin: "The Met Office (UK) had a yellow warning out followed by a severe thunderstorm watch from skywarn UK then TORRO added a convective discussion for a chance of tornadoes. During the early afternoon a powerful convective line crossed the country which produced 17 loud rumbles of thunder over Maghera, the line had no great structure to speak of - just a huge black mess so I didn't get any images. The line turned severe and moved NE into Antrim forming a LEWP with bowing segments with torrential rainfall and copious lightning which reached Belfast. Behind this storm a second line formed far to the SW which was moving NE so I decided to head out and watch it hit Maghera."

"The line was slow moving and took its time but when it arrived it had nothing to offer in the gust front apartment so I let it pass over into the E, when it moved a considerable distance in that direction it suddenly intensified and as the sun broke out new cells began to form behind the storm forming a flanking region. These beautiful white cells exploded to life with slightly sheared tops and I knew by the structure along the base that something was going to happen so I went to high ground with camera at the ready and I got rewarded big time. A beautiful white funnel cloud formed from a lowering under the base of the flanking towers and went quite low to the ground, it lowered half a dozen times for over 15 mins in perfect viewing conditions lit by full sunlight over Co. Antrim, it was perhaps 10 or even 20 miles away so was rather distant but thankfully I had my 100-400mm lens with me so I was able to catch it in the act and managed to get over 100 images.

"These are two random shots (above), the funnel was visible between 16.20 and 16.35 BST and was clearly visible to anyone who dared to look up, I'm sure many people saw it on the roads in Antrim and especially near Ballymena.

"There's a possibility this could have been a tornado however it would be difficult to confirm without further eyewitnesses so hopefully someone will come forward. For those who don't know - the visible condensation funnel does not have to be seen all the way from cloud to ground for it to be a tornado, in fact, the actual vortex is wider and longer than the funnel so there's a good chance this may have touched down as a tornado! I have to say this was a thrilling day for me, to be able to watch this stunning funnel from the back of a big thunderstorm with the sun burning my face is a feeling I have difficulty describing. Now I have another image report to do, I might combine both days into the one report so I need to get started on that - I love the weather in N. Ireland!," Martin added.

For more images from Martin visit

Earlier this month (09 August 2012), Arenda Lake photographed the below funnel cloud near Granard, County Longford.