Just after noon on Friday, the Twitter account for the Mackinac Bridge tweeted out two photos of a waterspout that had formed in the Straits of Mackinac and was very visible from the bridge.

As the tweet reads:

An awesome Friday weather event with a waterspout visible today from the @MackinacBridge!

As you can see by the pictures, traffic was still crossing the bridge as the waterspout appeared.

According to the National Weather Service, waterspouts are very common in the Great Lakes as the weather changes from summer to fall. We see them most frequently from August through September.  The NWS says it's because the lakes are at their warmest from the summer months and it's when we start to see the cold Canadian air move south.

While waterspouts are a common occurrence in the Great Lakes, although this year we've seen a large number of them, in fact as the Washington Post reported on October 6th, in one week between September 28th and October 4th, there were 233 waterspouts reported. That outbreak set a world record for the number of waterspouts produced in a single week.  Another record outbreak happened a little more than a month earlier when over three days, August 16 through the 18th, 88 funnels were spotted, according to the Washington Post story.

What is a waterspout?  According to the National Weather Service, the NOAA or National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Dr. Joseph Golden, a distinguished waterspout authority with the organization explained it as,

a "funnel which contains an intense vortex, sometimes destructive, of small horizontal extent and which occurs over a body of water."

The National Weather Service says there are two types of waterspouts, tornadic and fair-weather. A tornadic waterspout starts on land as a tornado and then moves over water. A fair-weather waterspout starts and stays in open water.

It appears the waterspout spotted near the Mackinac Bridge Friday afternoon was considered a fair-weather waterspout because it formed in the Straits, even though just by looking at the pictures, you can tell fair weather looks to be a stretch. The funnel seemingly appeared and disappeared without incident.


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