Photo Shows Possible Lake Michigan Winter Waterspout

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BELGIUM, Wisc. – This photograph appeared on the website Storm Chaser Movies on Tuesday, claiming to show a waterspout that formed over Lake Michigan.  The post included a little insight into what made the waterspout occur during this extreme cold.

The thin white-colored rope is barely visible in the center of the photo.  Waterspouts are possible in winter, due to the same processes that generate lake-effect clouds and snow — the extreme differential between the water and air temperatures over Lake Michigan and the convective energy that differential creates.

Waterspouts on the Great Lakes are most common in the late summer and early fall as the first outbreaks of cold air move into the region while the lakes are still very warm.

For more videos and images, head to the Storm Chaser Videos main website.

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  • Wade Szilagyi

    Hello. This is the International Centre for Waterspout Research. This is not a waterspout. This is an arctic outbreak vortex, commonly known as a "steam devil". Steam devils are like dust devils, they are not connected to clouds. The clouds in this picture are way off in the distance. However, on occasion, a very large vortex is connected with the clouds under these same very cold and windy conditions. This is known as a "winter waterspout". These are rarely observed becaused they are obscurred by lake effect snow.