Thursday, October 15, 2015

Waterspout Watch

Several meteorological factors lead your WTOL 11 Weather Team to believe that today is a prime day for waterspout formation. 

The ICWR, or International Centre for Waterspout Research, has issued this experimental forecast map for Thursday and Friday's possible outbreak:

Waterspout Forecast Map for Great Lakes; Effective Friday Morning
While the map specifically targets Friday morning, based on timing and location, Meteorologist Kimberly Newman predicts waterspouts to begin spinning up as early as Thursday afternoon for folks along the western basin of Lake Erie. Red indicates 'likely'. Yellow indicates a waterspout 'chance'.

What is a Waterspout?
In its simplest explanation, a waterspout is a tornado over water. The funnel cloud of a waterspout is a wrapped, intensely spinning vortex, typically stemming from a fair weather cumulus cloud, and in contact with the water. Many waterspouts originate at the surface of the water and climb up to connect with the cloud as warm water and relatively saturated air lift the surface-based parcel. 

Waterspout image captured by CLG Photography from September 15, 2015 on Lake Erie
On a day, much like today, a waterspout may develop due to the passing of a cold front and the stark contrast in the air and water temperatures. A waterspout may last from 2 to 20 minutes and move at a speed of 10-15mph.

Waterspouts formed on Lake Erie on non-severe weather days are typically small, short-lived and non-threatening to those inland. 

Boaters, fishermen, and anyone along the lake shore need to take this threat seriously, as it does pose a large risk to those in close proximity to a rotating vortex over the water. 

Waterspouts have been observed both during the day and at night. When the waterspout is activated by a lake breeze, timing is often in the morning into early afternoon. Along a passing cold front or any approaching disturbance, waterspout activity can occur into the evening and overnight hours. 

A weather radio broadcast will be issued if there is a threat of damage from today's waterspout threat.