What is the difference between a funnel cloud and a tornado?

WEATHER: Like It or Not!
CHICAGO (WLS) -- You may think a funnel cloud and a tornado are one and the same, but they actually mean different things.

A funnel cloud is a tight rotating column of air (that is often the start of a tornado) that never reaches the ground.

Storms can produce funnel clouds, but never produce a tornado.

A tornado on the other hand, is when that rotating column of air, and that tight circulation reaches the ground - and it then can cause damage.

So a funnel cloud stays up in the sky, and it doesn't become a tornado until it actually reaches the ground.

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