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VOL. 9 NO. 6
Take a class

Waterspout warning

Educate yourself on the dangers of waterspouts

Waterspout warning

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

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

Fair weather waterspouts usually form along the dark flat base of a line of developing cumulus clouds and are 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 becomes visible, a fair weather waterspout is near maturity. Fair weather waterspouts form in light wind conditions and normally move little.

If a waterspout moves onshore, the National Weather Service issues a tornado warning, as some waterspouts can cause significant damage and injuries. Typically, fair weather waterspouts dissipate rapidly when making landfall and rarely penetrate far inland.

The best way to avoid a waterspout is to move at a 90-degree angle to its apparent movement. Never move closer to investigate a waterspout. Some can be just as dangerous as tornadoes.
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