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Twin Waterspouts Over Lake Michigan Near Kenosha: Can Waterspouts Be Predicted?

Fri September 13 2013 11:10 am
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Twin waterpouts merged into one waterspout (Kenosha News).

An unusually wide waterspout was observed off of 56th Street and the Lake Michigan shoreline in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Th waterspout was visible with a more narrow waterspout Thursday afternoon. They appeared to merge at times. Excellent ideo was captured by Kenosha News, and several excellent photos were captured by Kenosha Police Department officer Mike Madsen.

Tornado warning sirens were activated near Kenosha, Wisconsin at 1:16 p.m. Thursday, September 12, 2013 because of reports of a funnel cloud a couple of miles off shore south of 104th St. near the City of Kenosha.

View Larger Map
Satellite view of Kenosha, Wisconsin at 56th Street south of Simmons Island Park.

Photo closeup to a waterspout over Lake Michigan near Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Waterspouts are considered serious marine hazards. Strong waterspouts can be dangerous — threatening boats, jets skis or other watercraft, aircraft and swimmers. Citizens are recommended to keep a considerable distance from waterspouts, and to always be on alert through weather reports and National Weather Service alerts. The United States National Weather Service will often issue special marine warnings when waterspouts are likely or have been sighted over coastal waters, or tornado warnings when waterspouts are expected to move onshore

Waterpouts are usually weaker than land tornados, and usually are considered a non-supercell tornado.

Waterspouts have a five-part life cycle:

1. formation of a dark spot on the water surface
2. spiral pattern on the water surface
3. formation of a spray ring
4. development of the visible condensation funnel
5. ultimately decay.

Waterspout Forecast
Fourteen parameters were recently investigated by weather researcher Wade Szilagyi of the Meteorological Service of Canada, as possible correlators to waterspout formation. From these parameters, two instability parameters (Water-850 mb temperature difference and convective cloud depth were determined to be the strongest correlators. Also one wind constraint (850 mb wind speed) was considered to be among the strongest correlators.

A forecast page has been set up by researchers using the Szilagyi Waterspout Index SWI. The SWI Forecast Page indicates a color-coded map of the Great Lakes that indicates the likelihood of a waterspout. The color scale is indicated in the upper left of the map.

CLEAR SKIES?  Weather Data for Friday, September 13th, 2013

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  • Current Conditions : 70.3F, Mostly Cloudy - 2:57 PM CDT Sep. 24
    Temperature: 70.3°F | Humidity: 76% | Pressure: 30.01in ( Falling) | Conditions: Mostly Cloudy | Wind Direction: NNE | Wind Speed: 2mph
  • Tuesday as of Sep. 24 2:45 PM CDT
    Tuesday - Mostly cloudy. Patchy fog in the morning. Slight chance of showers in the morning, then a chance of showers and thunderstorms in the afternoon. Highs in the upper 70s. South winds 10 to 15 mph. Chance of precipitation 50 percent.
  • Tonight as of Sep. 24 2:45 PM CDT
    Tonight - Cloudy with a 30 percent chance of showers. Patchy fog. Lows in the mid 60s. South winds 5 to 10 mph.
  • Tuesday Night as of Sep. 24 2:45 PM CDT
    Tuesday Night - Mostly cloudy. Showers and thunderstorms likely in the evening, then a slight chance of showers after midnight. Lows in the lower 50s. West winds 10 to 15 mph in the evening becoming northwest 10 to 20 mph after midnight. Chance of precipitation 70 percent.