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Potential for waterspouts on the Great Lakes


Example of a waterspout on Lake Erie taken in early July.
Example of a waterspout on Lake Erie taken in early July.

Lyndsay Morrison, staff writer

September 30, 2011 — Environment Canada says there's an increased risk of waterspouts forming on the Great Lakes this week.

A cool, unstable airmass could cause waterspouts over the Great Lakes
A cool, unstable airmass could cause waterspouts over the Great Lakes

Anyone living in the Great Lakes basin should stay off the water for the next couple of days. Environment Canada says there's an increased risk of waterspouts forming.

“We have perfect conditions for what is known as waterspouts. These are considered to be weak tornadoes over the water,” says Wade Szilagyi, a meteorologist with Environment Canada.

A waterspout watch was issued for Lake Erie and Lake Ontario Thursday, but there is still potential for activity over all of the Great Lakes.

“What's causing the conditions is the very cool, unstable airmass that's over the Great Lakes,” explains Szilagyi. “These are perfect conditions for waterspouts, and actually we're in the peak season for waterspouts. If you're lucky enough down by the water you might see one.”

Still, Szilagyi adds that watching for waterspouts from a distance is safest, even though most tend to stay over the water.

“On occasion, as we did have with Goderich, they do come onshore, but that is a very small chance,” he tells The Weather Network. “Most of the waterspouts that occur over the Great Lakes do break up once they hit land.”

Last month, as many as five waterspouts formed off the coast of North Carolina last month and one came ashore, transitioning into a tornado.

If they do come onshore, Szilagyi advises people in the area to stay away from trees, as waterspouts have been known to knock down trees.

If you see a waterspout in your area, tell us on The Weather Network's Facebook page. You can also help us tell this story by sharing your photos.

With files from Andrea Stockton

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