Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Totally True Tuesday ~ Wild Whirling Water

You’ve probably heard about tornadoes – a furious, funnel of wind that tears a path of destruction wherever it goes. But did you know tornadoes can also occur over water? These are called waterspouts.

Ingredients for a Waterspout

~ Take 1 part humid air and 1 part high temperatures (80 to 90 degrees). Mix together.

As the humid air rises it will condense into tiny water droplets making a cloud. The more the water condenses the more heat is produced and the faster it will rise. Once this happens a funnel-shaped cloud can quickly form. If it extends towards a body of water the end result is a waterspout.

What to Look For

Like any kind of weird weather the conditions have to be just right to make a waterspout. Here are some things to look out for:

~ Dark, swirling spots on a body of water
~ Spiral pattern changes from lighter to darker
~ Winds pick up to 40 mph, kicking up spray in a circular pattern called the “Spray Vortex”
~ Clouds point downward to center of swirling water
~ Funnel cloud is formed and creates small waves called the “Bubble Wake” as it moves along the surface
~ After the vortex weakens and the funnel turns more rope-like, the waterspout will finally die out

Flying Frogs…

Even though waterspouts aren’t usually as powerful as a land-based tornado, they can still do some damage. Frogs, tadpoles, fish and lizards that have been sucked up into the wild, whirling water have been known to later rain down on the land.

More Waterspout Facts

~ Waterspouts are very common in the Florida Keys, in fact they see between 400 and 500 per year. These usually occur between 11 am and 1 pm or 4 pm to 7 pm.
~ Waterspouts can also occur on the colder waters of the Great Lakes – ships have reported seeing 30 in one day.

To learn more about waterspouts, check out the Internet or your local library.

For more cool stories and fun articles, please visit knowonder magazine for kids.  It's FREE and we even have an app for that!


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