Photo of the week: Spouting up

Summary

They are fairly rare and don’t last very long, but some lucky few in Oostduinkerke early this week were witness to a picturesque waterspout

Sea-born tornado

Residents of Oostduinkerke at the Flemish coast pulled out their phones on Monday when a waterspout appeared just offshore. Waterspouts form in the North Sea occasionally, and when conditions are right, as they were this week, they offer quite a show.

Waterspouts are basically sea-born tornadoes, though much weaker than their land-roving counterparts. They originate as air begins to circulate at the surface of relatively warm water. It moves along colder air to low-lying clouds, forming a funnel.

They tend to form in the North Sea during the second half of the summer when the waters near the shore have warmed up. “They are really pretty when viewed from the shore,” said VRT meteorologist Sabine Hagedoren. “They can be dangerous if you’re on the water, but by the time they reach shore, they have lost most of their power and very seldom lead to any damage.”

Photo courtesy MW/Twitter