CHICAGO (CBS) — The lakefront around Kenosha, Wisc. and north suburban Waukegan got quite a spectacle Thursday: two waterspouts over Lake Michigan.
At home with her daughter in Carol Beach, just south of Kenosha, Christine Holden knew something was up when she heard sirens.
“My daughter and I looked outside and it got really dark and I thought, ‘Let’s go over by the lake,’” she says. “And we pulled up to the lakefront and there were twin spouts.”
Waterspouts are like tornadoes over water, except most are weaker than tornadoes.
Says Holden, “We sat and watched awhile, and they dissipated and came back down. And the two joined into one and made a bigger one. It was quite the show for about 15 to 20 minutes.”
Holden says at one point they saw a boat out on the lake heading south as fast as it could away from the waterspouts.
Also Thursday, police at Winthrop Harbor in Waukegan spotted two waterspouts and released images to the media.
From the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration website:
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.
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.
The National Weather Service also issued a beach hazards statement, which will be in effect from 7 p.m. though late Friday night.
The NWS anticipates high wave action and dangerous swimming conditions, along with strong rip currents.