Toto Too?

Joseph just captured this amazing pic from the front of his home…Water Spout off North Point









I, for one, have never had the pleasure of sighting a waterspout. Nor, thankfully, have I been in the path of it’s nasty BIG brother!

Google ON!….GAAAAAA!……I have been trying to find a simple explanation, WITHOUT ads and pop-ups… HA! Found one….FINALLY! Our tax dollars at work…

waterspout for full story…

In short…for these to form you need large cumulus clouds that hold lots of moisture. A column of air forms due to the slight temperature differences in one area of the water surface. Warmer air rises over that area and cool air moves in over the water. That air is then warmed and rises. (NO SPOUT YET). The warming, rising, filling in, warming, rising, filling in continues…..But just like water moving down a drain, the column of air begins to rotate slowly. The process continues and the confused boater will see nothing but a strange dark area in the water. The rotation is making ripples in one spot while it picks up speed. The speed of rotation gets to the point that the pressure inside the column is lower than the outside. This pressure drop usually starts up at the cloud….PLUS this column is loaded with water vapor. Everyone knows when you drop the pressure (or cool) air that is full of water vapor you get…say it with me….FOG!  Only this fog is rotating fast as it falls and spins from the cloud above.

QUESTION: YOU are the one in the boat, watching this unfold. What should you do?

A)  PANIC, jump out of the boat and swim to shore.

B) Take the boat to the middle of the dark spot and have your phone ready for a great selfie.

C) Move your boat away from the dark spot/waterspout.

I am hoping you picked “C”. Many waterspouts are just “fair weather waterspouts” that move very slowly, if at all, and only last a short time. But the winds are surprising high.

Larger “storm waterspouts” are the wet versions of the nasty cousin, the tornado. Both of which can’t hold a candle to the infamous firestorm.

Water spout 2

Water Spouts by Britiannica

Imagine seeing THIS from your yard…


Fire Storm (

See what is happening? Super hot air rising…”cooler air” moving in from the right and left side. HOT column of rising gas in the center begins to rotate….and… Toto pees in his basket!

Let’s slow down and cool Toto off a little…..

Many of these have passed across the fields on a hot day…


Dust Devil from ABC News (with video)

Similar tune, different lyrics. These dust devils form on hot days and usually clear skies. Hot air will rise in a certain area. A hot parking lot, or field of dirt, surround by cooler grass. Rising column of warm air, cooler air rushes in, it rises forming a larger column…..Column of air rotates, stirring up dust and dog, and up they go! (Turkey vultures will find these rising air masses and glide all afternoon with very little effort.) Add a light breeze and the whole thing will move across the land until something breaks up the wind pattern. Once, I actually stood in the middle of a little dust devil, which was pretty “cool”.

Time for bed, Toto…



About Mike

Retired science teacher that is learning to blog...

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