Despite their ominous appearance, these waterspouts – like most of their kind – are fair-weather phenomena unrelated to tornadoes. They can form when cold, dry air moves over warm waters. As warm, moist air rises from the water’s surface, air is drawn in from the surroundings to replace it. Any vorticity in that air comes with it, growing stronger as it gets pulls in, thanks to conservation of angular momentum. That action creates the waterspout, which becomes visible when the warm, humid air cools enough to condense and form a cloud wall. (Image credit: R. Giudici; via EPOD)

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