Photos: Waterspouts Swarm the Great Lakes

September 27, 2012; 5:02 AM ET
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Cool Autumn Air Forms Waterspouts on Great Lakes

Storified by Accu Weather · Tue, Sep 25 2012 03:31:08

Great pic of a water spout from #Cleveland Browns Stadium yesterday. http://pic.twitter.com/EsPGJDrjBill Karins
Waterspouts formed Saturday and Sunday on the Great Lakes, including in Cleveland, shortly before the start of the Browns-Bills game. Spotters reported eight waterspouts and four funnel clouds in Ohio and Michigan.

A record 154 waterspouts have been sighted on the Great Lakes this year. Why? 

"Waterspouts are essentially weak, short-lived tornadoes over water. However, they do not need an intense thunderstorm to form. In fact, most form in an entirely different manner, compared to tornadoes," AccuWeather.com Severe Weather Expert Henry Margusity said.

The cool, autumn air moved in over the warm waters of the Great Lakes. At the same time, a puddle of chilly air formed high above the surface in the upper levels of the atmosphere. The flow of cool air into the zone of warm, moist, rising air over the lake can cause small areas of rotation. As these swirls rise and tighten, a waterspout can form.

"These conditions often lead to heavy snow squalls during the winter. When they occur during the late summer and fall, occasionally, waterspouts can form," AccuWeather.com Chief Meteorologist Elliot Abrams said.

While mostly a threat to small craft, occasionally they can wander onshore before dissipating, causing minor property damage. They often have the strength equivalent of an EF0 tornado.

The visible funnel is mostly caused by the condensation of the moisture due to the low pressure within the storm and not so much by surface water being drawn upward.
How Do Waterspouts Form?Brightcove
Water Spout Buffalo Bills vs Cleveland Browns Game 09/23/2012wburnard
Water spout right before the game. It was a sign of things to come! http://pic.twitter.com/HIIjwchKKaren VanRhyn
Water Spout out in Elyria Ohio!!! http://pic.twitter.com/mgyc9L57Budd1983
I'm sure that this has already been all over twitter, but cool water spout over the lake during tailgating. http://pic.twitter.com/JuH78GmbSean Nowlin
Another pic of water spout over Lake Erie. http://pic.twitter.com/OjqEOHmvJo Mullin

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