Funnel clouds have been spotted across Saskatchewan, including in Saskatoon, leaving people wondering what they’re supposed to do when they see one.
The first step is to understand what you’re looking at.
A funnel cloud is a rotating cloud column extending from the cloud base.
They can form in a variety of different environments and can also be the precursor to a tornado.
Environment Canada’s warning preparedness meteorologist John Paul Cragg says that some can form with no risk of them touching the ground while others could create a landspout tornado.
“Any funnel cloud you should take precautions.”
READ MORE: What to do when you spot a tornado
Landspout tornadoes are more common to Saskatchewan and are generally weaker and shorter-lived, often forming from smaller cold core funnel clouds.
The strongest and most destructive tornadoes form from rotating storms known as supercell thunderstorms and are more common in the United States although they do form in Saskatchewan in the summer months.
Regardless, Cragg says if you see circulation on the ground in the form of debris spinning just above the ground that is an indication that a tornado is occurring and you have to take precautions right away no matter what.
“It’s almost impossible to see from the ground whether the circulation is spinning fast or slow, whether it’s dangerous or not.”
Those precautions include heading indoors to the lowest level of the nearest building, into a centre room away from windows and doors.
WATCH MORE: What to do when you spot a funnel cloud
A tornado warning is issued by Environment Canada when a tornado is imminent or occurring.
Tornado watches are issued when conditions are favourable for the development of severe thunderstorms that could produce tornadoes.
A weather advisory for possible funnel clouds is issued when the environment is right for funnel clouds.
“Environment Canada won’t always get these watches and warnings out in the time that you’ll need them, so social media, your local weather forecaster, all of these spots are places you can get information about what’s happening right now,” Cragg said.
READ MORE: Tornado destroys farm south of Saskatoon
A Saskatchewan farmer had a first experience of the tornado’s power on the evening of July 19 when one ripped through his farmyard destroying everything in its path.
WATCH: Davidson area farm destroyed by tornado