Isle of Man was under a rather rare cloud

The rare horseshoe vortex pictured in the Isle of Man at the start of July

The rare horseshoe vortex pictured in the Isle of Man at the start of July

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Forecasters at Ronaldsway meteorological office have had their heads in the clouds recently.

Readers’ photographs of unusual cloud formations caused a stir at the start of July when what appeared to be a tornado appeared over Braaid, prompting a number of similar pictures which were identified at the time as showing funnel cloud.

However, when forecaster and self-confessed cloud geek David Boultbee subjected one of the pictures to closer scrutiny he made an exciting discovery.

‘One of those pictures is not of a funnel cloud, it’s a horseshoe vortex, which is much rarer, one of the rarest formations you can get,’ he said.

Mr Boultbee, who is a member of the Cloud Appreciation Society, said the picture taken by reader Chris Sims of Baldrine was better than any on the society’s own website. And the cloud formation was so rare there were only two or three examples posted from around the world.

‘They produce a publication called the Cloud Collector’s Handbook and it’s nice to be able to pick them off,’ he said. ‘Not only are they very rare but they are also very fleeting, often lasting for only a few seconds, so that is why there are not many photographs. It’s the first one I’ve seen so it’s rather exciting. Of course there are lots of stories about them bringing good luck.’

‘It is made up of rotating air and in America it is something a tornado could form out of. But in this case it makes a horseshoe shape instead caused by wind rushing in from underneath the vortex.’

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