Picture of the Day: The Ocean Tornado
THE OCEAN TORNADO
In this amazing capture by Joey Mole, we see a waterspout near Tampa Bay, Florida. According to NASA, the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida is arguably the most active area in the world for waterspouts.
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]