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Waterspout Chasing

Florida Keys - Aug. 2007

In August, 2007 I drove from Canada to Florida to chase waterspouts in the Florida Keys. Waterspouts are similar to tornadoes over water but are typically not associated with a violent supercell thunderstorm the way regular tornadoes are. They start as a small circulation over warm water and that circulation gets stretched up by a rapidly developing cumulus cloud. A mature waterspout will have a funnel cloud descending from the cloud base to the water and an associated spray ring on the water where the most violent rotation is. Waterspouts can be a hazard to boat traffic and they can even come ashore, causing damage similar to a weak tornado.

I chose to attempt to chase them using every means possible in my limited time there so we chased by land in a car, at sea in a small boat and even in the air in a small plane. I did manage to document several waterspouts during the 2 week chase, some not pictured here. There were also many incredible views to be seen in this beautiful part of the world.

A mature waterspout near Tavernier

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Twin waterspouts off Key West

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Some of the views from around Sugarloaf Key:

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Chasing waterspouts by boat - The 16 foot "No Fear"

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Attempting to chase waterspouts using a small plane...

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My new chase vehicle...A Cessna. Although we weren't able to observe any waterspouts while in the air, we were able to get up underneath a very healthy updraft that had a lot of potential and became a fully mature thunderstorm. The flight also provided a great view of the Florida Keys as we circled around. Once the heavy rains started, we knew that our 'spout chances had ended for the day.

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