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Rare summer waterspout potential spins up on the Great Lakes

Sunday, August 1st 2021, 2:13 pm - An upper-level low pulling in ample amounts of cold air aloft, combined with the warmer waters of the Great Lakes, is providing for an uncommon, but significant summer waterspout threat Sunday.

While waterspouts are a common sight on the Great Lakes in the fall, a considerable threat for them is unfolding on Sunday.

The setup for waterspouts Sunday is particularly suited over lakes Huron and Erie, thanks to an upper-level low pulling in ample amounts of cold air aloft. The framework is seen more often in the fall and is not that typical during the summer months.

SEE ALSO: New world record smashes previous record, 232 waterspouts over the Great Lakes


Mark Robinson, Storm Hunter and meteorologist at The Weather Network, said when there is relatively warm lakes and cold air aloft, these ingredients can facilitate the development of cumulus clouds “quite quickly.”

Combined with the right amount of surface shear and wind, these conditions can become conducive for waterspout development.

“That normally happens in the fall. We don’t normally get this cold air aloft at this time of the year. So we’re just a little bit early, and that’s what making this event kind of interesting,” said Robinson.

The International Centre for Waterspout Research (ICWR) released its forecast, noting that waterspouts can be associated with any shower or thunderstorm Sunday. It highlighted the potential is greatest on southern Lake Huron and eastern Lake Erie. It has already confirmed more than 40 waterspouts/funnels from Sunday morning, with photos posted by users on social media.

There are waterspout watches in effect for southern Lake Huron, and eastern and western Lake Erie.

A waterspout is a non-supercell tornado that forms beneath a rapidly growing cumulus cloud. While 'spouts usually dissipate over the water, they may occasionally come ashore as a weak landspout tornado. When that occurs, a tornado warning is normally issued for the area.


Provided you're at a safe distance from them, they're usually harmless.

Thumbnail courtesy of Matt Shiffler Photography, taken on Lake Erie, near downtown Cleveland, Ohio.

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