JERSEY SHORE – Some people who braved the torrential rains and lightning strikes were rewarded with a rare sight just off the beach this afternoon.
Several observers, stretching from Brick to at least Normandy Beach, caught on video and in photographs a waterspout.
The National Ocean Service defines a water spout as a whirling column of air and mist.
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There are two types: fair weather, which are not associated with thunderstorms, and likely what onlookers saw today, tornadic.
“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,” NOS officials said.
Such waterspouts are basically tornadoes that form over water, and should be considered dangerous. If this particular spout had moved onshore, a tornado warning would have been issued.
It was just last year in July when a New Jersey family encountered a waterspout while canoeing in Downe Township, in Cumberland County. They were crabbing along marshes on the Delaware River when a water spout barreled toward them. The funnel came within 20 feet of their canoe, but turned at the last moment before it could hit them.
Jersey Shore Online reached out to the U.S. National Weather Service Philadelphia/Mount Holly office to ask how rare water spouts are in the state. The office was closed.