Massive Waterspout in Florida

If you live in Florida, this is called 'normal'. A waterspout--a tornado in the water--came ashore on Monday near Tampa causing light damage. You'd better start running before it gets to you.

Link (warning: auto-sound) -via Core77

(Photo: Joey Mole)


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There are at least two kinds of waterspouts: tornadic waterspouts that are tornadoes over water, and non-tornadic waterspouts (aka fair weather waterspouts) that are different in nature. They are formed and are powered differently. If I remember correctly, the former comes down from the cloud and is powered in part by up and down air flows from different temperatures, while the latter has to do with wind flows near the surface and grow up to the cloud. They get called "fair weather" because they can form in connection with much milder clouds than strong thunderstorms, and also tend to be much weaker. That may be the case here considering the cloud above is not very mean looking, and from the shape of the waterspout. Also, in Florida, the vast majority of waterspouts are non-tornadic, although other places have a different mix. (Don't interpret this as saying they are safe...).

Having previously lived in Florida for 18 years and making frequent trips back there, I have never seen a waterspout in person. I've only seen a handful of funnel clouds, and heard of local waterspouts via the news.

(Edit: Tried looking for more official reports, but didn't find any with details other than some TV meteorologist referring to it as a fair-weather waterspout. The NWS defines any such vortex reaching from the cloud to the surface as a tornado, although I've seen others who like to distinguish between a tornado and a water/landspout. The difference is more academic though, and for the purposes of warnings both are dangerous.)
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