‘Rare’ tornadic waterspout spotted off Suffolk coast
PUBLISHED: 17:02 28 August 2020 | UPDATED: 09:36 29 August 2020
A tornadic waterspout has been spotted off the Suffolk coast as thunderstorms and rain created the “ideal conditions” for its formation.
At 1.45pm on Friday, what looked like a tornado-at-sea appeared on the horizon just north-east of Walberswick, near Southwold.
And according to Weatherquest meterologist Dan Holley, that’s exactly what it was.
He said: “A tornadic waterspout is similar to a tornado - but a tornado itself can only happen on land.
“They’re generally quite rare in the UK, and not many people get the chance to actually see one while it’s happening. We get about 35-40 of them a year, but most are weak and go unnoticed or unreported.
“Today, however, the conditions are ideal for them. Winds were light at the water’s surface, and when they blow in different directions it causes wind conversion.
“This creates a bit of a spin near-ground level, which gets pulled up into the thunderstorm above it.
“That’s when you get a funnel cloud, or a waterspout, which is what you see on this video.”
He added: “A lot of them are very weak and don’t last long at all. It all depends on the set-up.”
According to Mark Bowler, who videoed the phenomenon, this specific waterspout did not last more than ten minutes.
While Mr Holley added that some tornadoes can be very damaging in the UK - such as the Birmingham tornado of 2005 - most waterspouts are not destructive.
He said: “Today we have thunderstorms forming in a distinct line up the coast and this is ideal for them, so the waterspouts could theoretically last for a lot longer. There’s already been one off the coast at Kent earlier this morning.”
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