waterspout lake ontario

Environment Canada issues warning as waterspouts form over Lake Ontario

A strong wind warning is in effect for Western Lake Ontario as of Monday afternoon at 4 p.m., joining waterspout watches that have been active across most of the Great Lakes region all day.

Some meteorologists are, in fact, speculating that this could be a full on, three-day-long "waterspout outbreak" caused by fast-falling temperatures.

"The first significant Great Lakes waterspout outbreak of the season is upon us, as a broad upper level trough creeps across Ontario this week bringing the threat for multiple days of waterspouts, pesky rain showers and isolated pop-up thunderstorms," reads a Weather Network forecast posted Monday.

"This specific weather pattern is expected to stick around through Wednesday before pushing east and making way for the return of drier conditions late week and into the weekend with high pressure."

Wet and windy weather may spell bad news for sailors, but storm geeks are already spotting, shooting and sharing images of the water tornadoes they've seen so far.

"Showers and thunderstorms capable of producing waterspouts are expected today through Wednesday," reads a warning issued Monday by Environment Canada for Lake Ontario, which Toronto sits on the shores of.

"Wind speeds inside the spray ring of a waterspout are 45 knots or higher. Vulnerable vessels are at risk of damage or capsizing. Mariners are urged to take all necessary precautions and prepare for the possibility of waterspout activity."

The federal weather agency is recommending that anyone out on the water seek safe harbour, but notes that "waterspouts are generally short-lived in nature, typically lasting 20 minutes or less."

Waterspouts are usually isolated in nature, according to EnviroCan, although "they can also occur in families of two or more" and cause spray rings in the tens of metres.

There have been some great sightings so far off the shores of Buffalo, but waterspouts have also been observed in Toronto (even if only from the sky).

A wind warning is also in effect for the waters near Toronto, with strong gusts of up to 33 knots expected in the marine area.

These non-supercell tornados, which occasionally look like columns over water, can sometimes be just as dangerous as land tornadoes, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Waterspouts can furthermore turn into tornadoes when they come ashore, damaging property and threatening lives.

A storm that is believed to have originated as a waterspout on Lake Huron touched down in the Sarnia area at the end of August, causing minor damage but no injuries.

Lead photo by

Kaylee Wendt


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