Tampa Waterspout Captured In Dramatic Video: What Is A Waterspout?

By iScienceTimes Staff on July 10, 2013 5:12 PM EDT

waterspout
A waterspout in Tampa formed on Monday. Tampa waterspouts have been a common occurrence this season, due to favorable weather conditions. (Photo: YouTube screenshot)

A waterspout hit Tampa earlier this week, resulting in some impressive amateur footage. It has been a busy season for waterspouts in the Tampa area, due to high humidity, warm water and only gentle winds, all ingredients that lead to the cool-looking -- and sometimes dangerous -- weather formations.

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On Monday, drivers traveling on Interstate 275 in Tampa spotted the waterspout, pulling over and snapping photos. The Tampa waterspout caused the National Weather Service to issue a tornado warning. The waterspout came ashore and damaged the roofs of several houses, but no one was injured.

"I saw it and I didn't want to go any further," motorist Randy Holley told the Tampa Bay. "I feel like I want to have an intact car and I want to have dinner tonight."

That was probably good thinking, says National Weather Service Meteorologist-in-Charge Brian LaMarre.

"We want to make sure people are at a safe distance because as it gets closer to them they're putting their life at risk," said LaMarre. "It's not worth a photograph."

But LaMarre also says that amateur waterspout-spotters help the National Weather service.

"The information you're sharing actually allows the National Weather Service and media to get that information out via warnings," LaMarre said.

So what is a waterspout?

A waterspout is a whirling column of air and water mist, says the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. They're essentially tornadoes over water, and they're generally weaker than tornadoes that occur on land. While they appear to be "sucking up" water, the funnel of a waterspout is just water condensation.

While they can be dangerous, especially to boats in the water or if they make their way to land, they're pretty amazing to look at, as you can see below.

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