Last week, Scottish farmer Michael Peterson looked up from his sheep — and spotted a tornado ripping across his back field. But unlike the tornados of the American Midwest, this one was made almost entirely of snow.
Peterson was able to film the “Snownado” using his phone. He later told BBC News that he was in the right place at just the right time to capture the footage.
The snow tornado arrived after an “Arctic blast” struck much of Scotland, burying the countryside in several inches of snow. Temperatures dropped to 3°F, the lowest recorded March temperature in the UK in more than a decade, reports the BBC.
Peterson’s farm is located in the Shetland Islands not far from Norway. Scotland is known for its brutal wind and rain. But thanks to their northern latitude, the Shetland Islands receive particularly harsh conditions during the winter. Still, Peterson says he’s never seen a meteorological phenomenon quite this extreme.
Snow tornados are rare, but there have been several well-documented reports in the past decade. While some of these cases have actually been waterspouts that have come ashore, others seem to be true tornados and have shown up everywhere from Mexico to Greece.
According to reporting from The Washington Post, the Scottish storm meets the correct criteria for a “bona fide tornado.” For one thing, it has a clearly visible funnel. For another, it appears to be spinning counter-clockwise, which is the appropriate direction of spin for a tornado in the northern hemisphere. Regardless of its pedigree, though, I think we can all agree on what matters most: Whatever this thing is, it’s pretty darn cool to watch.
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