A lake tornado swirls over Okanagan Lake near Fintry, as seen from Okanagan Centre in Lake Country. (Shannon Chubb photo)

A lake tornado swirls over Okanagan Lake near Fintry, as seen from Okanagan Centre in Lake Country. (Shannon Chubb photo)

‘Tornado’ touches down on Okanagan Lake

Residents capture photos of steam devil near Fintry

Some North Okanagan residents were wide-eyed in awe as they looked out over Okanagan Lake Friday, Feb. 12.

What appeared to be a tornado formed over the lake, near Fintry Friday morning.

“While I was eating breakfast I saw it,” Shannon Chubb said. “I’m not sure how it was formed but it travelled for awhile actually.”

Chubb saw the long funnel from the living room window of her Okanagan Centre home, looking across the lake.

She wasn’t the only one to see or capture a photo of the ‘lake tornado.’

“It was so cool! Myself and the car in front of me had to pull over for it,” Tiffany Dorion said.

The weather phenomenon was also observed by Joanne Croom, who caught two on camera. But according to Croom, it is not a tornado, but evaporation fog on the lake.

Meteorologist Jaclyn Whittal with the Weather Network says they are in fact steam devils.

“They happen over the Great Lakes when we get some of the coldest air of the season almost every year,” Whittal said.

“We’re getting a very cold Arctic outbreak right now and it’s all to do with the difference in water temperature in the air above,” said Whittal, noting that the devils appear over the Great Lakes during cold spells too.

“This triggers convection…steam can form right above the water (as you can see in the picture) rising air from the warm lake water can also create some wind shear and that steam can be drawn into a vortex. This vortex displays this magnificent phenomenon the steam devil.”

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A tornado touched down on Okanagan Lake, near Fintry, as pictured from Lake Country Friday, Feb. 12. (Tiffany Dorion photo)

A tornado touched down on Okanagan Lake, near Fintry, as pictured from Lake Country Friday, Feb. 12. (Tiffany Dorion photo)

Two lake tornados form over Okanagan Lake Friday, Feb. 12. (Joanne Croom photo)

Two lake tornados form over Okanagan Lake Friday, Feb. 12. (Joanne Croom photo)