After surveying damage, photos, video, and radar images, the National Weather Service in Topeka has determined that the event that unfolded along HWY 24 in Jefferson County, near Williamstown, on Sunday evening was a "gustnado." This is a rare phenomenon that looks similar to a tornado but does not have all the characteristics of a true tornado. The "gustnado" occurs when the outflow of a thunderstorm interacts with strong winds at the surface along a frontal boundary. These strong winds blowing in different directions gives the swirling look of a tornado but it is not actually connected to the actual cloud base of the thunderstorm.
A true tornado forms in the updraft of a thunderstorm and is connected to the t-storm cloud.
The "gustnado" was approximately 1/4 mile wide and produced 80mph winds and caused damage to tree limbs.
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