Boaters and photographers should be on the alert for lower Great Lakes waterspouts this weekend.
The potential for seeing a waterspout primarily exists over lakes Erie and Ontario this weekend.
Already, a spotter reported two waterspouts on Lake Michigan near Ft. Sheridan Beach, Ill. around 7:45 a.m. CDT on Friday.
Much cooler air will move in over the warm waters of the Great Lakes. At the same time, a puddle of chilly air will form high above the surface in the upper levels of the atmosphere.
According to AccuWeather.com Chief Meteorologist Elliot Abrams, "These conditions often lead to heavy snow squalls during the winter. When they occur during the late summer and fall, occasionally, waterspouts can form."
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.
Lake water temperatures are in the middle 70s to near 80 degrees and the air passing over the Great Lakes, dipping to the upper 50s and lower 60s during the morning, will be cool enough to allow moisture to gather just above the surface.
According to Severe Weather Expert Henry Margusity, "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."
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.
This story was first published Tuesday, August 7, 2012 and has been updated.
A powerful storm will bring disruptive weather from Spain to France and Italy for Christmas Day.
As California heads into its third consecutive dry winter with no relief in sight, firefighters continue to battle a late-fall blaze in Big Sur.
After several days of unseasonable warmth, bitter cold and rounds of snow will continue to spread across the Western and Central states into this weekend.
Similar to the days prior to Thanksgiving, the worst weather will focus on the days prior to Christmas as millions of travelers take to the roads and skies in the U.S. and southern Canada.
An abrupt and abnormal cold wave gripped parts of southeastern Texas in early December, catching many off-guard, including two native Southern California bobcats recently transferred to the area.
Warm air is forecast to surge into much of the eastern half of the nation by the weekend and will be accompanied by heavy rain and flooding risk in some locations.
Chicago, IL (1960)
12.5" snow, max. 24 hour December snow.
Atlantic Ocean (1984)
Hurricane Lili northeast of Puerto Rico. Only the 6th tropical storm in December since 1886.
Central Illinois (1836)
Famous "Sudden Change" in central Illinois. Cold front at noon caused quick drop from 40 degrees to zero.