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At Least Six Waterspouts Spotted On Lake Michigan

This waterspout was spotted over Navy Pier on Saturday. (Credit: Photo provided to NWS by Anne Rogers)

This waterspout was spotted over Navy Pier on Saturday. (Credit: Photo provided to NWS by Anne Rogers)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — It looks like a tornado over the water, and it’s a weather phenomenon so rare that only about one is reported a year.

It’s called a waterspout.

On Saturday, the National Weather Service reported six different waterspouts across the Chicago-Milwaukee area shoreline on Saturday.

Before this weekend, only 12 waterspouts had been reported across Chicago’s coastal waters, which runs north through Racine, since 2000. There may have been more, but the National Weather Service acknowledges that digital photography now makes it easier to confirm waterspouts.

As of Saturday evening, at least six different instances of waterspouts were spotted from Chicago to Milwaukee. And there were unconfirmed reports of more.

Waterspouts are similar to tornadoes over water. They were caused on Saturday by a combination of warmer lake water with cooler unstable air. None of the waterspouts reached the shore and there were no reports of injuries.

The confirmed spottings:

  • East of Lake Forest and southeast of the Great Lakes Naval Base in Waukegan at 10:10 a.m.
  • Multiple waterspouts witnessed East of McKinley Marina near the east Milwaukee lakeshore about 10:14 a.m.
  • Three to four miles off the shore of the Chicago metro area at 10:20 a.m.
  • Periodic waterspouts reported East of the Hoan Bridge in Milwaukee at 10:28 a.m.
  • North of Navy Pier at 12:09 p.m.
  • Southeast of Kenosha Harbor in Wisconsin at 3:15 p.m.