GULF SHORES, Ala. — It was just another day at the beach in Alabama for Shari Klosterman and her family, until a rare sight was seen just above the water.
It was a waterspout spinning in the distance. Klosterman tells WHAS11 News, “it was the first one I had ever seen! It was exciting to witness!”
Klosterman and her family were on the beach at the Gulf Shores around midday Aug. 25, when she saw it.
“I turned to see the water spout and grabbed my phone," Klosterman said. "It lasted a good 10-15 minutes."
Klosterman said she’s from Crestwood, just east of Louisville.
What is a waterspout?
In simple terms, a waterspout is a column of cloud-filled wind rotating over a body of water.
According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), waterspouts fall into two categories: fair weather waterspouts and tornadic waterspouts.
Tornadic waterspouts are tornadoes that form over water or move from land to water. They have the same characteristics as a land tornado. They are associated with severe thunderstorms, and are often accompanied by high winds and seas, large hail, and frequent dangerous lightning, experts at NOAA said.
Fair weather waterspouts usually form along the dark flat base of a line of developing cumulus clouds. This type of waterspout is generally not associated with thunderstorms. While tornadic waterspouts develop downward in a thunderstorm, a fair weather waterspout develops on the surface of the water and works its way upward. By the time the funnel is visible, a fair weather waterspout is near maturity. Fair weather waterspouts form in light wind conditions so they normally move very little.
NOAA warns that If a waterspout moves onshore, the National Weather Service issues a tornado warning, as some of them can cause significant damage and injuries to people. Typically, fair weather waterspouts dissipate rapidly when they make landfall, and rarely penetrate far inland.
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