Prime waterspout/landspout conditions next few days

Timelapse video of Milwaukee waterspout (courtesy WTMJ-TV)


Numerous waterspouts formed over the near-shore waters of Lake Michigan today. This photo from WISN-TV in Milwaukee shows a mature waterspout just off shore of Milwaukee harbor. (Click to enlarge.) I forecasted this possibility yesterday in this blog post.

These are formed by abnormally warm lake water (for this time of year) and a significant cold pool of air aloft.


Meteorologists look at the lapse-rates which indicate the potential for rapidly rising air.

Lapse rate is simply the change of temperature from the surface to cloud level. High lapse rates indicate a strong rising motion in the atmosphere which indicates the potential for waterspouts. Waterspouts are quite simply vortices of air and water that swirl upward into the base of mature cumulus and cumulonimbus. Occasionally situations like this can also spawn cold-air funnels, which if strong enough, can turn into landspouts. These are similar to tornadoes but are usually very weak. This summer, a landspout came very close to the city of DeKalb, Illinois and was very photogenic.

Lapse rates this afternoon remain fairly impressive so be on the lookout for little funnels hanging or spinning from the underside of our cloud deck. Conditions will only be favorable during the daylight hours as the lapse rates and instability will greatly diminish at sunset. -ES


Posted under tornado, weather geek

This post was written by qni_it on September 24, 2011

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