Millville ‘tornado’ gets downgraded designation

Although many people saw what appeared to be a tornado in the Millville/Ocean View area on Sunday, Sept. 1, the National Weather Service confirmed this week that the phenomenon could only be called a funnel cloud.

“We actually had a long discussion about this yesterday,” said a meteorologist for the National Weather Service earlier this week. “We’ve determined, based on reports from the emergency managers in that location, as well as some of the local reports down there, that, although it had some of the characteristics, it did not meet the actual threshold for it to be determined as a tornado.”

Shawn O’Brien, who was staying with his parents, Tom and Terry O’Brien, at their home in Bay Forest, witnessed the funnel cloud firsthand and managed to record about five minutes of video of the phenomenon.

“My dad was sitting on his porch, doing a crossword puzzle, and looked up and saw the wind and yelled for us to come out and take a look,” recalled O’Brien. “It was amazing. It was kind of surreal, because you’re not expecting a tornado to form a half-mile away, especially at the beach.”

O’Brien said that his parent’s home did not experience any damage but did see the funnel’s strength.

“As it was forming, you couldn’t really feel anything, you could just hear it a little bit. Then, as it started moving closer, it started knocking things over on the patio and we quickly ran inside. Then, 30 seconds later, it was done.”

According to the Glossary of Meteorology (AMS 2000), a tornado is “a violently rotating column of air, pendant from a cumuliform cloud or underneath a cumuliform cloud, and often (but not always) visible as a funnel cloud.”

“Sixty-five mile an hour winds would have determined it to be a low-threshold tornado. It did not meet that threshold. There wasn’t any significant damage reported; therefore, we didn’t determine it to be a tornado,” said NWS officials.

The funnel cloud touched down between 1:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. and quickly dissipated. In its short lifespan, it did cause some damage, including reported damage to an outbuilding at Al Casapulla’s in Millville. However, no injuries were reported.

“It certainly made an otherwise quite Labor Day weekend very eventful,” said O’Brien.

To view O’Brien’s video of the funnel cloud, visit