A SHARP-EYED Northern Echo reader photographed this dramatic funnel cloud as it swirled above Darlington during unseasonally dank weather.

Although not uncommon, funnel clouds are associated with tornadoes, the often-destructive form of extreme weather.

If a funnel cloud touches the ground, it becomes a tornado.

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This funnel cloud was spotted by Mark Williams, in the Cockerton area of Darlington, on Thursday (August 14) morning.

It was one of a number of funnel cloud sightings across the country, with others reported in Leicestershire and Dorset.

Mr Williams said: "It was quite dramatic, I spotted it out of the front room window and raced upstairs to get a better look, that's where I took the photo.

"It seemed to be shooting back up into the clouds."

MeteoGroup weather forecaster Billy Payne said tornadoes and funnel clouds were not uncommon in the UK, although the tornadoes witnessed here were usually a great deal weaker than the destructive variety often seen in the US.

He said: "Funnel clouds can be a cause for concern, particularly if they touch down, as that is when they become a tornado.

"We have seen heavy showers and thunder storms, and high-level changes of wind direction, which are conducive to tornado and funnel cloud development."