Funnel clouds form over land and water through Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. We are all well aware of the dangers tornados pose to humans, structures, and wildlife. The path of destruction is a clear indication of the strength of the winds within the storm. Waterspouts appear as tornados. One exception is that a waterspout is on the surface of the water as opposed to land. The question remains, is a waterspout a tornado?

Is Waterspout Dangerous

Yes, waterspouts are dangerous to human life, vessels, stationary objects, structures beneath the water but near the surface. 

Waterspouts peak winds reach near fifty miles per hour. Vessels, swimmers, and object become damaged when hit directly by a waterspout. Avoid coming within close proximity to the water waterspout. 

Are Waterspouts As Dangerous As Tornadoes 

Waterspouts are weak versions of tornadoes. When comparing the two, tornadoes peak at 300 miles per hour compared to the measly 50 miles per waterspouts reach. 

Even though one lives on land while the other over oceans or lakes, tornadoes are more destructive. Take into account the open water of lakes and oceans are most frequently barren when compared to land. As a result, the combination of people, manmade objects, and trees are prone to extensive damage due to high winds.

However, never discredit the power of waterspouts. Water born tornadoes move at a rapid pace and therefore quickly approach unsuspecting boaters. A waterspout presents an extreme risk to passengers and vessels. 

Has Anyone Died From Waterspouts

Yes, boaters and people have been killed by waterspouts. However, waterspouts are far less potent than tornadoes. Therefore, tornadoes are significantly more dangerous to human life when compared to waterspouts. 

How Do You Identify A Waterspout

A waterspout is identified by a long cylindrical tube reaching from a cloud to the water’s surface. At the point of contact with the water, a misty fog forms due to disturbance created at the top of the sea or lake. However, before the rotation forms, dark clouds will appear overhead. 

Keep in mind; waterspouts will make landfall. Upon landfall, the storm is short-lived but presents a risk to beachgoers and structures.  

How Do Waterspouts Impact Boaters

Waterspouts highly impact boaters. Direct hits result in catastrophic consequences. The consequences include a high probability of capsizing. In addition to the risk of capsizing, objects are prone to damage and passengers are may be injured or killed. 

Never steer towards a waterspout for a closer look. The storms directional movement is unpredictable. Before realizing you can be central to the path. In this situation, it may be too late to avoid. 

Should You Avoid A Waterspout On A Boat

Boaters must avoid waterspouts at all costs. When dark clouds are on the horizon, and the weather service has issued warnings, be on the lookout for funnel cloud formation. The safest option is to return the vessel to the dock. 

If a waterspout or multiple waterspouts form, steer the vessel away from the storm at a 90-degree angle. However, it is not upcoming for multiple spouts to form simultaneously. 

Anglers are particularly susceptible to waterspouts. The process of pulling anchor must be done rapidly to move out of harm’s way. A stationary boat in the path of a waterspout is in grave danger. 

Is There A Waterspout Warning

Yes, the National Weather Service issues waterspout warnings. Specific meteorological conditions are conducive to the formation of waterspouts. When these conditions occur, the National Weather Service informs the public.

Before boating, it is essential to read the marine forecast issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The short term is NOAA. While on the water, utilize a VHF radio to monitor the marine weather station. 

Generally speaking, the weather will not be conducive for boating when waterspout warnings are issued. When a formation is expected, the conditions most frequently include gusty winds, thunderstorms, and dark flat clouds. 

Is A Waterspout a Tornado: Now You Know

While a tornado can move offshore and create a waterspout, the difference is one lives on land while the other over water. When the National Weather Service issues a waterspout warning, keep the watercraft secured to the dock. No sense in risking life or property for a day of cruising or fishing. Better weather is on the horizon.