What Is A Waterspout?

Waterspouts fall into two categories: fair weather waterspouts and tornadic waterspouts.

Tornadic waterspouts are tornadoes that form over water, or move from land to water. They have the same characteristics as a land tornado. They are associated with severe thunderstorms, and are often accompanied by high winds and seas, large hail, and frequent dangerous lightning.

Fair weather waterspouts usually form along the dark flat base of a line of developing cumulus clouds. This type of waterspout is generally not associated with thunderstorms. While tornadic waterspouts develop downward in a thunderstorm, a fair weather waterspout develops on the surface of the water and works its way upward. By the time the funnel is visible, a fair weather waterspout is near maturity. Fair weather waterspouts form in light wind conditions so they normally move very little.


This waterspout was captured off the coast of Bunbury on 25th July 2013.

Image : ©Nathan Dawe/perthweatherlive.com

UPDATE: This amazing video was sent into PWL by Karen Hartig, who captured it near Kalbarri, Western Australia on 21st June 2015.

VIDEO © Karen Hartig

If a waterspout moves onshore, they can cause significant damage and injuries to people. Typically, fair weather waterspouts dissipate rapidly when they make landfall, and rarely penetrate far inland.

Check out the PWL Facebook Page video album links below to see some great waterspout footage sent in by PWL viewers.

Yallingup, 16 May 2013

Coogee, 7 August 2013   (WARNING: contains explicit language)

This article is reproduced here with permission from http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/waterspout.html