Aug 232010

Monday, 23 August 2010

A waterspout was seen off the coast of Okinawa, Japan on August 19, 2010. Below are links to some spectacular photos of the waterspout.
From Yahoo! News
CNN I-report


The waterspout lasted about five minutes. On average, waterspouts off the coast of Japan last about 14 minutes. According to a database on tornadoes and waterspouts in Japan from 1961 to 1993, there are 4.5 waterspouts per year in Japan. I found it interesting that according to the database, waterspouts in Japan occur most frequently in October.

Waterspouts are different than tornadoes. Waterspouts form during fair and relatively calm weather during the warm season, usually during the day. They develop from the water surface upward, while typical tornadoes form from the cloud base downward. Waterspouts form in light wind conditions, so they usually move very little. If a waterspout moves onshore, it is then called a tornado. Waterspouts typically dissipate rapidly when they make landfall and rarely move very far inland.

I’ve never been lucky enough to see a waterspout, but hopefully that will change at some point in the future. They are truly a different breed altogether than tornadoes that I see out in the Great Plains. It’s difficult enough to forecast a tornado, but it’s even harder to forecast a waterspout. They are like the popcorn thunderstorms that form over the southern U.S. in the summertime. I need a really big hurricane or tornado outbreak to happen so that I can discuss that on here instead of waterspouts; sorry guys, the material’s a little weak for now.


- Jim