Monday, January 30, 2012

Waterspouts in Snow?!

A pretty cool image has been making the social media rounds amongst the weather community today. The picture below from shows a waterspout occuring in snow somewhere in Canada!


Remember, a waterspout is simply a tornado over water. Waterspouts are typically fairly weak, but on occasion can pack a bit of a punch. In this case, the surrounding cold environment would likely keep the wind speeds in any waterspouts quite weak.

I wasn't able to find an exact location in Canada where this picture was taken, but a search of turned up a couple more pictures of funnels/waterspouts in and around snow. The first picture seems to show 4 separate funnels. These pictures were taken over Okanagan Lake in Canada.



So, what in the world is causing this?! Well, it's nothing actually has to do with the contrast in temperatures between the relatively 'warmer' lake waters and the cold air above. The story on with the above pictures says the lake waters were near freezing at the time of the pics, while the air temps above were actually below zero. That vertical gradient of temperatures creates quite a bit of instability (vertical motion)...and that, combined with some other factors that were just right led to the funnel and waterspout development.

You can read the full story here:

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