|Large Waterspout - Marathon, FL
August 25th, 2007
BY MARTIN KUCERA & FLORIDALIGHTNING.COM
|What an active morning this was. Finally I got my hands on a nice waterspout, that happened
quite close to the shore. Marathon, FL has worked it's magic this wet season. Probably the best
event of Florida Keys waterspout history happened on June 24th, 2007 - event that I missed
literally by minutes and still can not get over it to this day. You can find many pictures of this
historic event >>>here<<<. A great video from that memorable day is >>>here<<<.
|The day started for me at 7am as usual during rainy season and a look outside showed a very
promising sky. Strong looking updrafts were all over the place, air was very humid and quite still.
Precipitable water value was at 5.66cm per 12z Key West sounding. During the waterspout event
- winds at Marathon were very light - east at 3mph. Temperature was 78 and Dew point was 76.
Anyway, there were some nice showers heading for Key Largo but due to bad vantage points
there I decided to head south, as I do most of the time and followed the shower that got it updraft
going by the time it crossed the island chain just south of Long Key. The storm now became
quite lighting active and it's flank and updraft looked really healthy. I tried to stay south of the
storm but it was still quite early morning and the visibility was less than great. The second
picture above shows the situation well. Still dark under the storm, too early in the day. At least
the overall contrast was good and visibility great, no haze, dust or pollution on this day. The
storm kept on moving south at a decent pace but I got to the area north of Marathon where you
can not see the Bay very well. I decided to drive all the way down to northern end of Marathon
and hopefully not be too far from the storm as a result. The view from here was good. Updraft to
the south of the storm just went crazy right there. Real thick looking tower just shot upwards.
That would be the last two photos above on the right. Also notice the difference between the last
two photos - look to the right - the flank that looks like some kind of inflow feature - it is
pointing south. The last photo above is when there is already a waterspout forming under it.
|The contrast was so bad that I decided to drive more north to make things better.
Unfortunately just north of Marathon, FL there is a large area of scrubs,
mangroves and swamps - it is impossible to directly see the Florida Bay from
there. So I drove for a few miles and finally was able to find a small opening in
mangroves and film a few minutes of this amazing waterspout. I absolutely loved
the constant thunder occurring along with this waterspout. Research shows that
thunder occurs with nearly 30% of all waterspout events. Most good waterspout
events I have experienced had of thunder associated with them, of course.
|It is interesting to see the video of this waterspout, especially the end of it. The
waterspout dissipates very quickly with no visible rain curtain that
would end the life cycle of the waterspout as usually would be the case.
|Well, of course, with a setup like this, the day was not over quite yet. Storms were
exploding everywhere. Only minutes after the first waterspout dissipated I spotted
a shower erupting well south of the Seven Mile Bridge. Unfortunately, the shower
more than 5 miles away. I first noticed a funnel underneath a rain free base as I
was crossing the bridge on my way to the Lower Keys. Later it became rain
obscured and I though it was all over until I got south enough to see it emerge
from the rain as a fully mature waterspout. This would have also been an amazing
event if the waterspout was only a few miles closer to the shore.
|The rope out stage was very quick like I said but also very dramatic with this
large waterspout. You can see the rain wrapping nicely around the waterspout.
The last photo above shows the updraft tower right after the waterspout
dissipated. The storm kept on going strong for a while longer until it finally
gusted out and raced down the island chain toward the Lower Keys...
|The waterspout started as a funnel cloud struggling with rain but emerged as a
full blown waterspout that lasted for more than twenty minutes...
|There were more great looking showers and storms before the atmosphere got
more stable. The first photo above - a strong updraft north of Big Pine Key that
never produced anything except for a few lightning strikes. I was almost sire
there would be another large waterspout under the base of this gorgeous tower.
The same storm a while later already raining out as seen from No Name Key, FL.
I have not seen updrafts this strong in a very long time here in the Florida Keys.