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Updated: 04/24/2014 10:48:03AM

Is that a tornado?

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Bill Hempel

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Most boaters have seen a water spout at one time or another. They are pretty to watch, and are usually not too dangerous. But recently, a waterspout hit a marina and did considerable damage, causing me to develop a new level of respect for these anomalies of nature.

There are two types of waterspouts — fair weather and tornadic. Tornadic waterspouts form over land and are accompanied by severe thunderstorm activity, while fair weather waterspouts form during fair weather and can exist on a bright sunny day. Fair weather waterspouts have winds in the 50 miles per hour range, while a tornadic waterspout can have winds up to 150 mph. Fair weather waterspouts usually remain over water and will dissipate rapidly when approaching land, while tornadic waterspouts can form over land and move out over water while maintaining a very high and harmful wind velocity.

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