Summer of 2015 has definitely featured some wild weather. Photographer Joe Gee captured this dramatic photo last Monday at Muskegon State Park. mLive featured Joe’s waterspout photo along with an explanation of the phenomenon by meteorologist Mark Torregrossa:
This is the waterspout season on the Great Lakes, but tonight’s waterspout did not occur in the classic waterspout weather pattern.
Waterspouts form mostly due to a large temperature difference between the water surface and the air a few thousand feet above. So the classic waterspout weather pattern would have a large, cold upper level storm system moving over the Great Lakes. That storm system is still well to our west, and won’t pass through until Wednesday.
This waterspout still most likely formed due to a temperature difference between the water and the air. The cold air aloft wasn’t really detectable because it was so isolated.
The other weather feature probably contributing to the development of this waterspout was a lake breeze or even possibly an “outflow boundary” from another storm. The lake breeze blows a different wind direction into the storm and can cause additional rotation. An outflow boundary coming off another thunderstorm can do the same thing.
So this waterspout is a less threatening rotation as compared to a tornado. Usually these waterspouts dissipate before they come onshore.
This time of year is the typical time for waterspouts because of two weather features. First, the Great Lakes water temperatures are usually warmest right now. Secondly, we have to mention the word fall. Cooler, fall-like air starts to move in at this time of year. The temperature difference is largest now through September.
More wild weather on Michigan in Pictures!