Reports of a waterspout spotted in the waters off the east coast of Vancouver Island early Wednesday morning (June 9) have meteorologists taking notice, however, the weather phenomenon is not entirely rare this time of the year.
Doug Lundquist, a warning preparedness meteorologist at Environment and Climate Change Canada noted the organization did receive reports of the spout and is currently verifying photos and videos posted online.
“They’re actually not that extremely rare this time of year … we are seeing a lot more than in the past because of cameras everywhere – it’s awesome – but we shouldn’t let it scare us.”
A waterspout is a whirling column of air and water mist that hits the water – the key difference between that and a funnel, which remains in the sky, he explained.
Comox Valley resident Jillian Rutledge captured the phenomenon on her phone. The video gives the waterspout the illusion of engulfing Vivian Island, a small Island near Powell River.
Spouts generally do not cause damage unless there are watercraft nearby, and Lundquist said they generally stay in the water and die out very quickly, unlike prairie tornadoes which can cause significant damage.
According to the National Ocean Service, waterspouts fall into two categories: fair weather and tornadic. Fair-weather waterspouts generally are not associated with thunderstorms and develop on the surface of the water and work their way upward.
By the time the funnel is visible, a fair-weather waterspout is near maturity and form in light wind conditions so they normally move very little.