What are Waterspouts?

1 min read
What are Waterspouts? Blog Image


A magnificent golden waterspout was recently filmed on the Kama River in Russia’s Perm region.

About Waterspouts:


  • A waterspout is a tornado-like column or funnel of violently rotating air that usually forms over the surface of the sea.
  • It is a non-supercell tornado over water having a five-part life cycle,
    • formation of a dark spot on the water surface;
    • spiral pattern on the water surface;
    • formation of a spray ring;
    • development of the visible condensation funnel;
    • and ultimately, decay;
  • Waterspouts form mostly in tropical and subtropical areas. But regions, including Europe, Middle-East, Australia, New Zealand and Antarctica also report these on rare occasions.
  • They may assume many shapes and often occur in a series, called a waterspout family.
  • Key characteristics of waterspouts include:
    • Funnel cloud: Waterspouts have a visible funnel-shaped cloud that extends downward from a parent cloud or the base of the thunderstorm.
    • Water connection: Waterspouts have a visible connection to the water's surface, drawing water or spray upward into the vortex.
    • Duration: Waterspouts can be relatively short-lived, ranging from a few minutes to an hour or so.
    • Size: Waterspouts are typically much smaller in scale compared to tornadoes, with diameters ranging from tens to a few hundred meters.
  • They are classified into two main types: tornadic waterspouts and fair-weather waterspouts.
  • Tornadic waterspouts:
    • They are tornadoes that form over water, or move from land to water.
    • They have the same characteristics as a land tornado.
    • They are associated with severe thunderstorms, and are often accompanied by high winds and seas, large hail, and frequent dangerous lightning.
  • Fair weather waterspouts:
  • They usually form along the dark flat base of a line of developing cumulus clouds.
  • This type of waterspout is generally not associated with thunderstorms.
  • While tornadic waterspouts develop downward in a thunderstorm, a fair weather waterspout develops on the surface of the water and works its way upward.
  • By the time the funnel is visible, a fair weather waterspout is near maturity.
  • Fair weather waterspouts form in light wind conditions so they normally move very little.


What is a Tornado?

  • A tornado is a narrow, violently rotating column of air that extends from a thunderstorm to the ground.
  • Because wind is invisible, it is hard to see a tornado unless it forms a condensation funnel made up of water droplets, dust and debris. 


Q1) What is a thunderstorm?

A thunderstorm is a weather phenomenon characterized by the occurrence of lightning, thunder, heavy rain, and sometimes strong winds or hail. It is a type of storm that develops when warm, moist air rises rapidly in an unstable atmosphere. Thunderstorms can vary in intensity, size, and duration, ranging from isolated, short-lived events to long-lasting, widespread systems.

Source: Spectacular waterspout in Russia goes viral on the internet, see video