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Waterspout seen south of Castle Harbour

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Stormy weather and a cold front led to the formation of a waterspout just south of Castle Island yesterday afternoon.

The tornado over water lasted for about ten minutes, according to Bermuda Weather Service, and several observers took pictures.

These photographs were shared with

The Royal Gazette by Annabella Doyle and Robert Kennedy.

Mr Kennedy, 43, from Pembroke, said: “I was in Tucker’s Town working.

“We were standing out in the yard looking towards the ocean and just noticed the waterspout started to grow.”

He said the waterspout began swirling and pulling up water and the effect was “quite dramatic”.

Meteorologist Michelle Pitcher, from Bermuda Weather Service, said the first of two funnel clouds formed just south of Castle Island, near Frick’s Point, just after 3pm.

“Soon after that, the second one formed next to the first. About 3.15pm, the first funnel cloud had dissipated, while the second funnel cloud continued to grow and became a waterspout when it reached the ocean’s surface.

“This waterspout persisted for about ten minutes before dissipating back into a funnel cloud and then the funnel cloud dissipated a few minutes after that.”

Ms Pitcher said funnel clouds and waterspouts formed several times a year in Bermuda, mainly in late spring to early fall, and were “usually isolated features whose exact position and formation is hard to predict”.

She said: “Today’s was formed by a convergence between an outflow boundary from a very active area of thunderstorms about 100 nautical miles to our northeast and a cold front that was settling over the area from the north.

“The funnel clouds formed just as the outflow boundary reached our area, noted by showers and isolated thunderstorms ten to 15 nautical miles to our southeast, and by the winds veering from the southwest to the northeast then east.

“The changing wind fields, plus the unstable atmosphere, allowed for rotation and formation of the funnel clouds and, subsequently, the waterspout.

“This also occurs more frequently over the ocean than on the land as the ocean’s surface has less friction when compared to the land and therefore less resistance to the winds.”

She added: “We at the Weather Service know the types of conditions that are favourable to formation but it is harder to forecast if one will form within sight of the Island or in the marine area, as we occupy such a small space in the ocean.”

Useful websites: www.weather.bm and the American Meteorological Society’s Glossary of Meteorology at http://amsglossary.allenpress.com/glossary.

Photo by Annabella Doyle

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Published August 02, 2011 at 2:00 am (Updated August 02, 2011 at 9:00 am)

Waterspout seen south of Castle Harbour

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