Rainbows, hail, orange clouds, funnel-looking shapes. It was an interesting evening of weather across western Pennsylvania. Many viewers sent in amazing pictures of low-hanging clouds that appeared to them to be funnels dropping from the isolated thunderstorms that moved across the area.
Most of the clouds are called "scud" clouds, Channel 11 meteorologist Scott Harbaugh reported. Scuds are a type of cloud that generally hangs below the base of a cumulonimbus (thunderstorm) or nimbostratus cloud.
Harbaugh sent the pictures to the National Weather Service in Pittsburgh, who confirmed that the clouds were nothing more than scuds.
These clouds often form in the downdraft area of a thunderstorm causing them to move faster than the base of the cloud and often appear to a lot of people as a funnel cloud or tornado. They can also be spotted in the front or shelf area of a storm giving a more ominous appearance.
The best and easiest way to tell between scuds and funnels is to look for rotation. If the clouds are simply moving in one primary direction they are most likely scud. While harmless, scud clouds are associated with thunderstorms which can bring dangerous lightning and hail.
Many viewers also caught an interesting orange tint to many of the clouds last evening. Nothing scary here. This was simply the way the setting sun was reflecting off the rain and the base of the clouds to give it that orange glow.