Wednesday, June 1, 2005

Funnel cloud
over Ewa Plain
spooks resident

Weather officials say winds off
Molokai helped spin the event

Ewa Villages' Keith Lum was among many residents who spotted a large funnel cloud over the Ewa Plain while working on his truck yesterday.

He ran inside his house, but not because the funnel cloud was spooky. He was yelling for a camera.

"When I first saw it, it was skinny, then it started getting thicker," he said. "It looked like it was going to touch ground."

After watching it for five minutes, he noticed it start to recede. "Then it just vanished," he said.

The National Weather Service received several reports on the funnel cloud, which formed about 5:45 p.m.

"It was kind of spooky seeing something like that in Hawaii," said Lum, who's heard plenty of stories about tornadoes on the mainland.

The funnel cloud didn't make contact with the ground.

"The right mixture of wind flow and orientation of mountains briefly, for five minutes or so, spun up a rather impressive funnel cloud," lead forecaster Jeff Powell of the National Weather Service said.

"I suspect that the likely driver was that winds were further east-southeast," he said. "When winds blow off Molokai, we get vortex swirls. The Molokai wake trained over Oahu."

That caused shower clouds over west Oahu and "one of those had just enough (power) to spin up a funnel cloud," Powell said.

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