First Alert Weather In-Depth: What is a waterspout?

[anvplayer video=”5060076″ station=”998131″]

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Waterspouts are really an amazing sight and in the Rochester area, they’re most likely to be seen closer to Lake Ontario.

News10NBC viewers sent several pictures of the waterspout in Wednesday. One was taken along Route 104 near North Goodman. In it, the bottom almost looks like a tornado, but it isn’t.

Another picture with a higher point of view shows the appendage on the bottom of cumulus clouds.

There are two scenarios that really make a difference for this time of the year for this formation.

One, there is plenty of warm water for Lake Ontario. Water temperatures are in the 60s.

The second ingredient is colder air crossing the lake. In this case, the air temperature a few thousand feet up is running at 40-50°. What happens? The warm air wants to rise into a cumulus cloud with a spinning motion.

So this is a much weaker version of a tornado and it diminishes very quickly as it moves inland. So it’s really just a threat to boaters.