Weather pattern, with cool air sweeping into the UK at high altitudes, spurred turbulent weather Thursday. (WeatherBell.com)

A strong cold front sweeping through England Thursday ignited strong showers and storms.  One of the storms passing through the Midlands spawned a menacing funnel cloud or possible tornado near East Midlands airport, which was photographed just as a Ryanair jet was taking off.

Here’s a look at the viral photo:

It’s not clear if the vortex photographed is an actual tornado, because there is no view of the ground.  In order for a funnel cloud to be classified as a tornado, it must make ground contact.

Archived radar imagery suggests the storm was passing through around 10:30 UTC or 11:30 a.m. local time, in the cluster of storms passing in between Nottingham and Birmingham.

Archived radar image from 11:30 a.m. local time Thursday, around the time the funnel cloud was likely photographed (weatheronline.co.uk)
Archived radar image from 11:30 a.m. local time Thursday, around the time the funnel cloud was likely photographed (weatheronline.co.uk)

Suffice to say, it was not a prudent decision for a plane to take off under such conditions.

“While meteorologists have conquered the downburst, making air travel much safer, tornadoes are a different matter,” writes Mike Smith, senior vice president at AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions. “There are far too many close encounters between aircraft and tornadoes.”

Related: Despite warning, St. Louis tornado caught airport, passengers off guard | In St. Louis, pilot was unaware of approaching tornado

The funnel cloud formed on a very active weather day in England Thursday, with “biblical rains” reported in South London.  The Daily Mail filed the following report yesterday:

Parts of Britain are submerged in floodwater this afternoon after a third of a month’s rain fell within just two hours.

Emergency services in south London have described the downpours as ‘biblical’ as drains blocked up causing widespread flash-flooding in Lewisham.

Tornadoes and funnel clouds, while not as common as in the United States, can and do occur in the United Kingdom.