There’s a reason David De Pastina keeps his eyes to the sky, and Thursday his fascination for weather watching paid off when he captured a series of sharp images of a skinny, snake-like funnel cloud that touched down northeast of Laramie.
“My wife was looking outside and said, ‘Is that a funnel cloud?’” De Pastina told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday afternoon. “We just looked up in the sky and you could see it circling and moving, and then it just formed.”
The view from their sun porch at about 11:30 a.m. about 7 miles northeast of Laramie off Roger Canyon Road near a sharp turn in the road locally known as “the spur” turned out to be the perfect vantage point to see the weather phenomenon, he said.
“It was just swirling and doing a snake-like movement up there,” he said, adding that while close, he wasn’t concerned for their safety. “They say tornadoes usually go northeast and we’re not in that path.”
Plus, it's a cold weather funnel cloud. It was only 56 degrees in Laramie when the funnel formed meaning it didn't have a lot of power.
"Very little danger," meteorologist Don Day told Cowboy State Daily.
Don Watzel, a meteorologist who works for Day, said the funnel cloud did touch down so it does qualify as a tornado.
"The tornado came out of a not very well organized structured storm that wouldn't support any kind of a long sustained rotating system," Watzel said.
"It's not completely harmless, but it was very, very weak," he said.
‘Tornadoes Don’t Happen In Laramie’
Since moving to Albany County from the Midwest in 2018, De Pastina said he and his wife Deborah have been close enough to photograph two tornadoes.
“When we first moved here, we actually asked about tornadoes and they told us, ‘Tornadoes don’t happen in Laramie,’” he said. “So, right away we have a big one June 6, 2018. It looked like a nuclear bomb went off (where it had touched down).”
While Thursday’s funnel cloud — it never touched down to become a tornado — was thin and long, the tornado that touched down near their home in 2018 was wide and squat, De Pastina said.
“That was a big one and it looked like a mushroom,” he said.
The spectacular funnel cloud photos he got Thursday are more motivation to keep looking up, De Pastina said.
“I’m looking at more clouds forming right now,” he said. “Now off the spur up toward the canyon and back toward Laramie I see clouds gathering there now, too.”
Contact Greg Johnson at Greg@CowboyStateDaily.com