Steam Devils on Lake Ontario

Toronto - March. 06, 2007

Air Temperature -21 Celsius

Frigid air over top of warm lake water can produce tremendous amounts of steam, especially first thing in the morning. When the wind conditions are just right, the steam can spin up into a vortex called a steam devil. Although they resemble tornadoes, these vortices are harmless (unless you find yourself unlucky enough to fall into the water while looking at them)

Photographing them is tough. First of all they're far offshore so they can be tough to spot, then add the freezing temperatures which wreaks havoc with camera batteries and fingers which are never bundled up enough, especially when trying to operate camera controls. It's still totally worth the effort, even if you have to get up at 4:30 in the morning to get into position before sunrise.


First light on Lake Ontario. The steam devils were far from shore today but many of them had well-defined funnels.
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They silently glide across the water like ghosts, spinning away in the freezing chill of early morning.
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