Multiple waterspouts spotted over Lake Superior

Published: Aug. 31, 2016 at 9:36 PM EDT
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The National Weather Service confirmed five waterspouts and three funnel clouds formed between noon and one o'clock Wednesday afternoon in areas around Marquette County.

They were spotted between Little Presque Isle and Harvey. One waterspout lasted roughly 20 minutes.

Mike Tapolcai, a Harvey resident, was in Marquette Township Wednesday when he noticed rotation in the sky.

"I was leaving the mall parking lot, I looked to the east and saw a funnel in the sky," Tapolcai said. "It caught my attention so I snapped a shot as quick as I could before I pulled out of the parking lot and pulled onto the highway. I then looked north and saw another funnel."

Jessica Glomp, a Negaunee Township woman, was also in Marquette Township Wednesday with her husband when they saw three different funnel clouds.

"We saw the two that were right next to each other for about five minutes, but then it was blocked by the Menards building," Glomp said. "The longer one, we watched it for at least five to 10 minutes before it started to dissipate."

So what exactly is a waterspout?

"It'll start in the cloud if it's a tornadic one and usually it forms along a cumulus baseline, which is definitely what we're seeing today is tons of cumulus clouds," TV6 Morning Meteorologist Cassie Laine said. "We're also seeing a strong northwest wind, which is allowing for a little bit of rotation, or at least some strong rotation at times."

Fair weather waterspouts on the other hand develop on the surface of the water and work their way upward.

Funnel clouds are rotating columns of air not in contact with the ground. If it reaches the ground, it's then considered a tornado or waterspout depending on the surface it touches.

If a waterspout moves onshore or is expected to move onshore, the National Weather Service will issue a tornado warning at that time.