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Waterspout potential on the lower Great Lakes

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Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Monday, July 14, 2014, 7:34 PM - Environment Canada issued waterspout watches on the lower Great Lakes Monday afternoon. Strong winds that are forecast to develop through the evening are elevating the risk in several areas.

High waves are forecast along the lower Great Lakes through the overnight, gradually building through to Tuesday afternoon.

Swimmers and boaters were advised to monitor to the conditions when waterspout advisories are in effect.

Waterspouts are considered to be weak tornadoes over water and they're normally seen in the early fall.

RELATED: Tornadoes in Canada: Everything you need to know

These rotating columns of water vapour range in diameter from 7 to 20 metres and can generate winds between 40 to 80 kilometres per hour -- more than enough to damage a boat.

They typically last about 10 minutes, Environment Canada says.

"As the cooler air passes over the warm lakes, it provides the perfect environment for waterspouts to kick up," explains Weather Network meteorologist Brian Dillon.

Although most waterspouts tend to stay over water, they do have the potential to come onshore. It's best to keep a safe distance if you see one develop.

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