|LARGE FLORIDA KEYS WATERSPOUT
Long Key, FL - July 7th, 2008
(c) Martin Kucera - FloridaLightning.com
|Like most any day between May and October I was up just before sunrise. That is the best time to get some nice
lightning photographs just with the hint of first light. I call it blue dawn. It is my most favorite time of day. It is also
quite favorable time for waterspout development, particularly during hot summer months when winds are very light.
On this specific morning I noticed widespread shower and thunderstorm activity all around the upper Keys. Winds
were out of south-east. I have observed numerous waterspout events on SW flow especially as the showers approach
the island chain. This would be the day that would really stand out when it comes to waterspout activity.
The funnel has been persistent for quite a while for more than ten minutes and I just leisurely waited for the shower
to get closer. The above photos were taken at Craig Key looking south-east. Notice the spray ring in the
third photo. It looks very distinct in video capture of this early morning waterspout.
This is probably the earliest ever in the day I have documented a waterspout.
|A short while later the waterspout got overtaken by the rain shaft and dissipated.
Sunrise was peaking through the heavy rain shaft... what a perfect morning.
|This is the same location later in the afternoon, about 5pm. Nothing truly spectacular
when you are looking for waterspouts but I just had the feeling to stick around
a bit longer, you could see the tops of these showers growing pretty rapidly.
|As I was approaching Long Key bridge I noticed a spray ring on the ocean surface very
close to US1. This really caught my attention in a hurry but by the time I pulled over the
spray ring was gone, I could still see the circulation in the dark cloud line overhead. In the
photo above I am looking west now while the "waterspout" is crossing the US1 highway.
|I run back a bit south over the Chanel 5 bridge and notice the spray with spiral
pattern around the forming waterspout. Great time to watch the waterspout
form from higher elevation. Images from video.
|Now things start happening very quickly. As soon as I cross the bridge the entire condensation funnel becomes visible
and reveals a small but quite an intense waterspout. It was very close to highway and very soon attracted many
spectators, cars were pulling over everywhere. This would have been a perfect waterspout to intercept on
my boat. It seems to me this waterspout formed on a collision with an earlier boundary.
There was a storm about half an hour earlier just a few miles to the south
of this location. It was amazing to watch now how fast
the waterspout turned into a very large tube.
|Long Key, FL area has been a favored location for waterspout development this year. Notice the white area inside of
the spray ring in the third photo. This area looked very violent as the large waterspout was moving away.
|Amazingly large Florida Keys waterspout. It hardly ever gets better than this.
Lightning activity was on increase by this time. I thought of changing
location to avoid the annoying power lines... but decided
to stay put and get more footage instead.
|Amazing Florida Keys waterspout. Wow. This certainly made up for missing the
large waterspout in Marathon, FL last year. It still hurts thinking about that one.
|The waterspout reached it's full mature stage and than abruptly went
through a phase where the outside walls just collapsed. This revealed the
inner, needle like intense vortex that persisted for a while longer before being
overtaken by rain and finally dissipating. But the day was not over yet !
|I went home fast now to get more video tapes and as soon as I get back to my car
there was some very loud thunder now. There was another cell forming just over
Islamorada, FL. I also noticed a funnel forming again in the area of the previous
waterspout. Decision to go after the forming funnel ended up being a mistake
today. Upon getting closer to now faint funnel I get a phone call from a friend in
Islamorada. He says there is a good waterspout coming onshore as we speak. All
I needed to do was to look around to see whats in the left photo above. This
waterspout was about nine miles away. Legendary storm chaser Jim Leonard
(CycloneJim.com) was also driving south at this time and I managed to notify
him of the development. Unfortunately the traffic moving at 40mph effectively
prevented both of us (again) to witness a waterspout coming ashore, this time in
Islamorada, FL. This one came ashore roughly at MM 81.5 and my co-worker
witnessed the waterspout dissipating directly over the highway. The right photo
above is what was left of the back side of the storm as soon as we got closer....
|The sky was simply amazing this late in the afternoon. One of the best displays you can hope for as a storm
photographer. Notice the nearly calm waters of Florida Bay. Many times in summer they get
unusually calm right after strong thunderstorms move through.
|The atmosphere kept trying till sunset hours but no more waterspouts were observed. I was treated to some
amazing lightning displays from another round of strong thunderstorms later in the evening...
|All Images & Text