Great lakes Waterspouts

The HWO for Western Michigan makes note of the strong cold front coming through and the potential for waterspouts on the great lakes.

I always mean to chase these but the forecast is always so sketchy that I never head out to the lakes.

Basically you look for a strong temperature differential. Warm lake cold air and you have the potential for waterspouts. Saw some nice dust devils in Wyoming/Nebraska this summer. Same deal, warm ground, cooler air. The dust devils got me thinking about waterspouts.

Anyone chase them, or have seen them on the great lakes ??

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Tom Hanlon
 
I have always wanted to try and see a watersput over the lake but have not. I live in Grand Rapids about 25-35 miles from Lake MI. Though today i saw the most awesome but short lived Dust Devil today. so cool
 
I wouldn't ever make a special trip just to do it, they are far from good enough to be able to predict that. But if some get spotted, you usually have time to make it to the shoreline.
 
http://vos.noaa.gov/MWL/dec_04/waterspout.shtml

http://www.pbase.com/kjosker/image/25271733

http://www.walleyecentral.com/photopost/sh...&sort=1&cat=all

http://www.crh.noaa.gov/dtx/images/wtrspout.gif

Those would make for a nice fall expedition.

This winter, though, I'm making some trips to the mountains for snow devils. Last April I saw an awesome outbreak of these things, some big/intense enough to do damage if they hit something weak. I had passengers so I couldn't chase or stop for very long to shoot video.
 
ive saw 2 a few years ago a mile or 2 off the downtown Chicago lakeshore

Kevin, where did you see them, and when? Was it across from the Navy Pier, or across from downtown chicago Lake MI, or across from the new botany garden museum in downtown Chicago. I'm also thinking of a place, that is really near Navy Pier, it's a new entertainment feature in chicago....

How do you predict waterspouts? They are normally spawned by a 'normal' thunderstorm, that does not have stormscale tornadic rotation and usually aren't to obvious on radar. So how can you chase/be there when they happen?
 
Waterspouts do NOT come from thunderstorms. They come from cumulus clouds, of the non-precipitating variety.
 
I have seen them (not in person), come from thunderstorm towers/clouds..that one of my comrades took...but they can variate...some can form from an actual supercell that forms overwater it would actually be a tornado, and then they can form normal thunderstorms/towering cumulus'. Rdale, how can they form from just plain cumulus cloud cover...and usually normal cumulus clouds don't have precipitation (Rain/Hail) to give off.
 
I'd also like to know more about this topic. Can anyone link some research or good articles concerning waterspouts on the lakes? I have lived a mile from Lake Michigan (north Chicago burbs) for about 20 years and have never seen one. I have a feeling that there's more luck than anything else involved with spotting them.
 
"Waterspouts do NOT come from thunderstorms. They come from cumulus clouds, of the non-precipitating variety."

Sorry - hate when I generalize... A large majority of Great Lakes spouts do not come from thunderstorms ;>

"ome can form from an actual supercell that forms overwater it would actually be a tornado,"

Right - that's a tornado. We're talking waterspouts here...

"and usually normal cumulus clouds don't have precipitation (Rain/Hail) to give off."

Right. Rarely do waterspouts come with any precip.

http://tinyurl.com/8sowz
 
How can just a 'normal' plain old cumulus cloud prduce intense rotation like in a waterspout...for that matter, how can it produce any rotation at all...just a plain Cumulus Humulus we're talking about here...are we on the same page, Rdale? Are Waterspouts reported as tornadoes to the NWS?
 
The same way cold-air funnels can come from "plain old" clouds too... The rotation is frequently "not intense" although I don't know what ratio of "strong" to "weak" would be...
 
Cold air funnels can (and do) come from plain old general thunderstorms (not supercells), I've never heard of any rotation or funnel coming out of a cumulus cloud....can you show me a documentation of this, please?
 
I'd have to say, a great deal with chasing waterspouts/seeing one, has to do with pure luck. Other than minor marine forecasting, such as look at buoy feeds, and what not. Snpw devils/Dust Devils, are completely luck, no forecasting is involved, or can be.
 
"ome can form from an actual supercell that forms overwater it would actually be a tornado,"

Right - that's a tornado. We're talking waterspouts here...


A tornado formed by a supercell over water is still labelled a waterspout.
Thats surely standard convention. :)
 
It's called a "tornadic waterspout" or "tornado over water" - a true waterspout is what we're talking about and does not require a thunderstorm.
 
"ome can form from an actual supercell that forms overwater it would actually be a tornado,"

Right - that's a tornado. We're talking waterspouts here...


A tornado formed by a supercell over water is still labelled a waterspout.
Thats surely standard convention. :)

Sorry, but any vortex extending from cloud base to surface of sufficient intensity to create damage (we can debate the exact quantitative threshold) IS a tornado. Period.

One then can also consider if the tornado is mesocyclonic or non-mesocyclonic.

Also note that the original definition of a "supercell" considers a temporal component so it is theoreticaly possible to have (an albeit brief) mesocyclonic tornado from a non-supercell - under the original definition (I don't know if the definition of a supercell still contains a strict temporal requirement). I would posit that such a storm would be exhibiting some or many visual supercellular characteristics during the period it is mesocyclonic and tornadic.

See how some definitions and catagorizations can clash, and how it can be hard to pigeon-hole the atmosphere into human defined categories - especially if they are psudeo-arbitrary (the temporal aspect of the supercell definition is the human defined part). Now think about the F scale!

On the other hand, the definition that a tornado is a vortex (with vortex lines) extending from cloud base to the ground is based soley on the physics of the process. Worrying about what sort of surface the vortex is over is the human defined part that only muddles things up (taken to the ad-absurdium, what is a tornado over an man-made lake???). Now think about the F Scale again!!
 
This same definitional issue confuses matters along the Orange County coast, where the local concentration of tornadoes is due to "fair-weather waterspouts" coming ashore, such as this vortex off Newport Beach on 1-11-01:
1-11-01g.jpg


But then when a waterspout forms under a storm with deep moist convection and deep-layer shear, but dissipates a hundred yards offshore, it remains a waterspout by standard definitions, such these vortexes off Newport and Huntington Beaches on 2-19-05:
2-19-05a.jpg


2-19-05f.jpg


A few years ago a "tornado" (by standard definition) hit a local dive bar located a hundred feet from the ocean, with the damage being primarily the amount of sand that got in everyones' beer. (But then I suppose the column of air by that time wasn't rotating violently enough to be a tornado....)
 
I saw 3 well-developed waterspouts over Lake Erie in late July of 2004, while at Cedar Point Amusement Park!

The first waterspout developed while I was on the "Meanstreak"; the train was going up the first lift hill, I looked to my left and was amazed to see a well developed rope funnel. As the train approached the top of the hill I could see a tight ball of spray at the water surface a few hundred feet under the tip of the funnel. I lost sight of the spectacle as the train descended into the first "dip", but at the top of the second hill/turn I regained visual and the waterspout had become more developed with the condensation all the way to the surface. I lost and regained view of the waterspout several times until the ride finished, but by the time I got off the coaster the waterspout had dissipated.

The other two developed about 20 minutes later at the same spot, but I was then in line for the "Gemini". A large stovepipe waterspout developed first and minutes later a thin rope developed to its east. The waterspouts lasted about 10 minutes or so and were then under cut by cold outflow from the thunderstorm, which produced them.

Didn't have a camera with me, but wish I did; I'm not going to Ceder Point again without bringing at least a disposable camera.

Simon Brewer
 
We get em in the UK too :wink:

Spout%202.jpg


Mark[/img]

But see, that looks like it was spawned by some sort of convective storm, and without any 'normal' features...see in the background there looks like a lot of precipitation...
 
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