Waterspouts usually occur in the region from August through October, when the water of the Great Lakes is near its warmest, meteorologists said.,
An outbreak of waterspouts over the Great Lakes dazzles onlookers.
Aug. 3, 2021, 7:10 a.m. ET
Mother Nature treated residents and visitors along the Great Lakes to an unusual show over the weekend, after what meteorologists called an outbreak of waterspouts was spotted.
In total, 52 waterspouts were counted over Lake Erie, Lake Huron and Lake Ontario on Sunday, according to the International Centre for Waterspout Research. At least one waterspout caused minor damage as it moved onshore. Images of the waterspouts were widely shared on social media.
Waterspouts, which are whirling columns of air and water mist, form when cold air moves over warmer water, drawing up moisture, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
In the Great Lakes, waterspouts are frequently spotted from August through October, when the water is at its warmest.
There are two types of waterspouts: tornadic, which start off as tornadoes over land and move out over water, and fair weather, which are more common and form over open water and climb toward the sky.
The highest number of recorded waterspouts for a single day was 82 on Oct. 1, 2020, the waterspout research center said. Worldwide, 610 waterspouts have been spotted this year, according to the center.
Last year, the Great Lakes produced 232 waterspouts from late September through early October, setting a record, according to GreatLakesNow.org.
Waterspouts are also common in Florida and on the Mediterranean.