CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Cheyenne residents were treated to not one, but two landspouts that formed in the city Wednesday evening.
Jared Allen, warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Cheyenne, confirmed that one spout circled the airport property south of Dell Range Boulevard, and the other formed in the northwest, near Alyssa Way and Marie Lane facing southward.
A landspout is a non-supercell tornado with a narrow, rope-like condensation funnel that forms while the thunderstorm cloud is still growing. There is no rotating updraft and the spinning motion originates near the ground, according to the NWS. Unlike supercell tornadoes, landspouts tend to be narrower, have weaker wind tunnels and are less dangerous.
Neither spout inflicted damage and were so weak local meteorologists weren’t able to rate them, Allen said.
“We knew it was short-lived and a brief situation,” he said. “The threat for any type of damage was very minimal … which is why we issued weather statements with landspouts being possible.”
Curious community members sent multiple photos of the phenomenon to the NWS in Cheyenne’s Twitter account. Allen said the photos the service received are credible.
“From the numerous photos that were sent in, they do look very valid,” he said. “[That’s] determined from looking at the landmarks and foreground. Many of the pictures were legitimate of what a landspout tornado looks like.”
The NWS sometimes receives inaccurate weather-related photos that are taken outside of the city, taken on the wrong day or time, or altered completely, Allen said. To ensure accuracy, local meteorologists double check every photo that gets sent in to them.
The photos prompted residents online to question why a tornado warning siren wasn’t issued for the city. Nearby F.E. Warren Air Force Base sent out a warning Wednesday evening. All base personnel were instructed to seek shelter immediately and remain indoors until told otherwise. The warning has been canceled as of this morning.
The City of Cheyenne and F.E. Warren Air Force Base abide by two different sets of rules for issuing air warnings for residents, Allen said. The NWS in Cheyenne only focuses on preemptive messages and has no control over when sirens are issued by the Air Force base.
Landspout sightings are common in Cheyenne and in the southeastern region of the state, Allen said, and residents can expect to see more of them over the next several afternoons. He encourages residents to take photos of the spouts and send them to the NWS, as the service’s reach is limited.
“We encourage any report to help us determine what the best course of action are for them,” he said. “We don’t have radars in every location, so the reports on the spouts are encouraged.”