World record for waterspouts over Great Lakes!
World Waterspout Record Over the Great Lakes!
Update as of 4 pm EDT, Oct 7. Waterspouts will continue over the Great Lakes through to Wednesday. Forecasts and live reports at https://t.co/WPioHG02Jy @NWSCleveland #ohwx #Onstorm #onwx #NYwx pic.twitter.com/CA4XUFA63h
— ICWR (@ICWR) October 7, 2023
We’re in the height of waterspout season over the Great Lakes, the series of large interconnected freshwater lakes in the east-central interior of North America. Waterspout season on the Great Lakes starts in August and runs through October. And on Saturday, October 7, 2023, the U.S. National Weather Service reported dozens of sightings of funnels and twisters over the Great Lakes, visible mostly across two states, northeastern Ohio and northwestern Pennsylvania. On Friday, they broke the world waterspout record, for most waterspouts sighted over the Great Lakes in a single day, according to the International Centre for Waterspout Research (ICWR).
If the waterspouts had come on land, we’d have called them tornadoes. But they didn’t and instead created a phenomenon that many enjoyed.
The International Centre for Waterspout Research – which describes itself as an “internationally recognized authority on the subject of waterspouts” – reported the world-record breaking waterspout event on Friday on the platform formerly known as Twitter:
Record-Breaking Waterspout Event – Great Lakes Waterspout Outbreak Update (10 am EDT, Oct 7)
We have confirmed 138 waterspouts / funnels over Lake Erie. Forecasts and live reports at: https://t.co/WPioHG02Jy @NWSCLE #ohwx #NYwx #ONWx #ONstorm pic.twitter.com/3xcNhaIgUw
— ICWR (@ICWR) October 7, 2023
Waterspouts expected to continue over Great Lakes
The many waterspouts over the Great Lakes were due to what meteorologists described as a significant fall frontal boundary that pushed through the Great Lakes and helped to cool the air.
And more waterspouts are expected to occur into Sunday and possibly into the coming week.
Waterspout Outbreak Continues on Sunday!
Latest waterspout forecast model run continues to show potential over all the Great Lakes, especially over the Lower Great Lakes. Send us your reports! https://t.co/WPioHG02Jy @NWSCLE #ohwx #NYwx #miwx #ONWx pic.twitter.com/lWEGbg2TQP
— ICWR (@ICWR) October 8, 2023
What is a waterspout?
A waterspout is just a tornado that forms over open water. A tornado over an ocean, lake – or even a river – is considered to be a waterspout. Waterspouts typically occur in tropical regions, but they can form almost anywhere. For example, in addition to the Great Lakes, people sometimes report waterspouts off the western coast of Europe, in the Mediterranean Sea, and in the Baltic Sea.
Waterspouts are typically weaker than most tornadoes. And they’re usually short-lived. But they can be destructive.
Fair-weather waterspouts – like those seen in the past several days in the Great Lakes – form during relatively calm weather. They typically form along the dark, flat bases of a line of developing cumulus clouds. Air begins to circulate at the surface of the water and develops upward.
Unlike tornadic waterspouts, which tend to happen in the afternoon, fair-weather waterspouts typically occur in the early to mid-morning hours, and sometimes in the early afternoon. Everyone associates tornadoes and waterspouts with thunderstorms, but in a fair-weather waterspout, there are no thunderstorms in the area. When fair-weather waterspouts form, they typically occur during light wind conditions.
Because of this, these waterspouts don’t move much. That’s good, because if they came onto land, we’d call them tornadoes!
Crazy waterspout fest early this morning on Lake Erie pic.twitter.com/QWSRjYh2Mt
— Ty Stevens (@VortXbrkdwn) October 7, 2023
Bottom line: On Friday, October 7, 2023, the U.S. National Weather Service reported dozens of reports of funnels and twisters over the Great Lakes in North America. They set a new world waterspout record, for most waterspouts sighted over the Great Lakes in a single day, according to the International Centre for Waterspout Research.