A whopping 13 waterspouts danced over the Great Lakes on Sunday September 23, bringing this year’s total up to a record 154, meteorologists said.
“This shatters the old record of 94 waterspouts reported in 2003,” Wade Szilagyi, a Canadian meteorologist who is director of the International Centre for Waterspout Research in Canada, told NBC News. Observers in Ohio and Michigan reported the phenomenon, which are common this time of year.
“Waterspouts are essentially weak, short-lived tornadoes over water,” said Henry Margusity, a severe-weather expert reporting for AccuWeather.com. “However, they do not need an intense thunderstorm to form. In fact, most form in an entirely different manner, compared to tornadoes.”
On the second day of autumn, as if at the flicking of a switch, the air had a snap to it, and cooler air swept in over the waters of the Great Lakes, AccuWeather.com said. A chilly-air “puddle” coalesced in the atmosphere’s upper levels, the meteorology site said, and the intersection of all those temperatures caused small sections of the air to rotate.
Although it looked as though lake water was being sucked up into the storm clouds, this is actually not the case, AccuWeather.com said. It was the condensation of moisture as the air rose and pressure dropped during the storm that formed the spouts.
Waterspouts are generally only dangerous to small boats, the weather site said, so mariners must be careful. The season is just beginning, Szilagyi said, with spouts possible through the end of October.
Below is some footage of the spout over Lake Michigan from the stadium, and underneath a longer version from another location.