The funnel is a more rare weather phenomenon for our area as the atmosphere was being influenced by Tropical Storm Nicholas which spurred this event. So what is a "tropical funnel" and is it a tornado?
Tropical funnels, similar to cold air funnels, are not exactly tornadoes. To be a "tornado," a funnel cloud must make contact with both the cloud base and surface of the Earth. Rarely do these every do so. In fact, tropical and cold air funnels form without a mesocyclone, or a supercell storm. They are typically found around small thundershowers. Tornadoes require much larger storms and way more atmospheric energies than what was present over Lawrence County this afternoon. Today's event was likely caused by a small column of air rising into the small thunderstorm when it's vorticity, or spin, tightened up just enough as it was stretched into the cloud to produce the short lived funnel cloud.
Live doppler radar registered a brief signature that corresponded with the event but only had about 10 mph of rotation velocity. So in all, today's event made for great pictures but stands as a reminder of how impressive and incredible the world of weather can be, even in the skies above Lawrenceburg, Tennessee.