Waterspouts: Pretty to photograph but forecasters say stay clear

Waterspouts are an awesome sight, but experts say when you see one, the smart thing to do is run for cover.

RUSKIN, Fla. - Thunderstorms are a daily occurrence during Florida summers, and with them come water spouts, which often go unnoticed unless they come onshore and become tornados.

Since they're moving storms, when residents see a waterspout, they should seek shelter, said Mark Austin, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Ruskin.

“The best you can do when you see a waterspout is go inside find a safe location inside, not only to shelter you from the waterspout that’s coming on shore but from the lightning in the area,” Austin said.

Waterspouts are pretty common in the summer and early fall when the water is warm, Austin said.

“Half of the days in the summer we have some don’t always go reported," he said. “Waterspouts are dangerous. The can cause as much damage as a tornado."

A waterspout crossed the Skyway Bridge in October 2015 and toppled a tractor trailer.

A January 2016 waterspout in Siesta Key turned into an EF2 tornado. The 132 mile per hour winds damaged dozens of condominiums and homes across the bay.

The National Weather Service recommends boaters plan ahead by checking weather conditions and keeping an eye to the sky.

For those on the ground, if you see cauliflower shaped clouds forming with bigger base clouds getting darker, find shelter.

 

© 2017 WTSP-TV


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