Waterspout Outbreak - Islamorada, FL - September 9th, 2003
by Martin Kucera
Of course it was one of the days I had to be at work again.  
But this time  I  would  not  let  my  work spoil this once in  
a lifetime experience. I left my apartment for work shortly
before 5pm. I did not pay much attention to the sky but
remember that the sky over Florida Bay had that strange
look to it, kind of calm with a slight orange color thats so
typical before sunset. But this time it was different. At about
5:10pm I got that feeling and stepped outside to see the
horizon. The picture to the right is exactly what I saw.  You
are looking for waterspouts all year round and then when
you see one it seems almost unreal and you just stand there
and time slows down and you are thinking to yourself...
"Is this really happening ?"
florida keys waterspout
Next thing I remember  is  that I  forgot  all about  the  fact  I had to be at work. I brought my backpack to the beach and
started shooting. Well, at first  it was difficult to decide what to shoot since I  realized there must have been about six
waterspouts at the same time.  The one I saw first was also the biggest one and lasted about 30 minutes since the moment I
took the first picture.  I can only guess for how long it must have been sitting there before I first spotted it.
florida keys waterspout
The picture on the left is the decaying stage of the
waterspout (shortly before the spout gets thinner and then
dissipates). It`s hard to see from the picture but there is
some rain visible just to the right of the waterspout. I
believe the cloud line wasn`t more then one or two miles off
the shore. The entire surroundings were completely quiet,
almost eerie and calm. Dozens of high flying birds only
added to the weird feeling. But the spouts were incredible. I
called the report to the National Weather Service in Key
West. The pictures that follow are showing how the event
progressed with time. If I were to put all the pictures in one
panorama shot you`d be able to see at least six  waterspouts
at one time underneath the cloud line.
florida keys multiple waterspouts
Closer look reveals four waterspouts at the same time, this frame was shot just to the left of the previous two pictures.
The setting sun in the background makes it difficult to see the spouts how they exactly looked on location.
florida keys waterspout outbreak
Rain begins to disrupt the right-middle one of the four spouts.
keys waterspouts
florida keys waterspout
keys waterspout
High contrast of the setting sun made it for some not so easy  
    photography as you can also see in the previous picture.
The tiny dots just to the right of the more developed  
waterspout are birds enjoying the updraft environment.
florida keys fair weather waterspout
florida keys waterspout
Looking even more south you can still find more waterspouts underneath the cloud line. Notice the one to the very left side
of the picture. Looks like funnel clouds  in some cases but with your naked eye you were able to tell the visible funnels
reached all the way between the water surface and the cloud line.
waterspout updraft
The above is a radar image from the afternoon about one hour after the event. And the picture of tops of the cloud line during the
time the waterspouts were in progress.
florida keys waterspouts
At about 6pm you can see the rain almost completely overtaking the horizon
and majority of the spouts dissipating....
(c) 2004