Picture of the Day: Waterspouts Over the Adriatic
WATERSPOUTS OVER THE ADRIATIC
In this phenomenal capture by Roberto Giudici, we see four waterspouts over the Adriatic Sea. The photograph was recently featured as the Earth Science Picture of the Day.
Giudici observed the waterspouts while on a boat trip to Brindisi, Italy. Roberto got this shot mere seconds before the furthest and oldest spout disappeared.
The waterspouts were spaced about 1/3 nautical miles apart and the captain was not concerned about boating past the scary-looking yet apparently non-threatening water cyclones. The photo was taken on July 23, 1999, and at left center is Othoni Island.
A waterspout is an intense columnar vortex that occurs over a body of water, connected to a cumuliform cloud. In the common form, it is a non-supercell tornado over water.
While it is often weaker than most of its land counterparts, stronger versions spawned by mesocyclones do occur. Waterspouts do not suck up water; the water seen in the main funnel cloud is actually water droplets formed by condensation. While many waterspouts form in the tropics, other areas also report waterspouts, including Europe, New Zealand, the Great Lakes and Antarctica.
Waterspouts have a five-part life cycle: formation of a dark spot on the water surface, spiral pattern on the water surface, formation of a spray ring, development of the visible condensation funnel, and ultimately decay. [Source]