What is a waterspout? - WLBT.com - Jackson, MS

What is a waterspout?

Source: Robin Alexander Source: Robin Alexander
Source: Linwood Nooe Source: Linwood Nooe

A waterspout is essentially a tornado over water, but it forms differently than a tornado. Water spouts are created out of rain showers rather than thunderstorms.

Meteorologist Michael Haynes points out another difference.

"They form from the water, or the surface, up. A tornado forms from the top down. You have to have the right conditions on the water, a little bit of wind shear similar to the way a dust devil develops," he says.

Meteorologist Joanne Culin says the National Weather Service in Flowood issued a tornado warning for a very small area near Pelahatchie Bay just after 6:30 Wednesday night, after pictures of the waterspout started circulating. Because waterspouts spin slowly, 70 miles per hour or less, they're not usually picked up on radar. But they can always pose a danger. People on boats are told to treat them just like tornado, and get to dry land quickly.

Wednesday's waterspout over Pelahatchie Bay didn't cause any damage or injuries, but it did create a thrill for spectators.

"If you're on the coast you're more likely to see a waterspout, but definitely something interesting for folks to see around here," Culin says.

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