The funnel-shaped waterspout (in circle).

The funnel-shaped waterspout (in circle).
A fair-weather waterspout showed up off Balochistan coast, that is a rare phenomenon on the country's sea horizons. A waterspout that looked like a tornado caught on a fisherman's cellular lens some 24 nautical miles off Balochistan coast during a tuna hunt near Sakoni last weekend, the WWF-Pakistan said on Wednesday.

"The average spout is around 50 meters in diameter, with wind speeds of 80 kilometres per hour," Technical Advisor (Marine Fisheries), WWF-Pakistan, Muhammad Moazzam Khan said, adding that a powerful waterspout could capsize boats, damage ships and endanger human life.

The WWF-Pakistan said that one of its trained fishermen, Mahar Gul, hailing from Lower Dir, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, reported the rare weather phenomenon that had been obscure until it was captured on phone camera. It lauded the fishermen for their keenness to record such rare events on the seas.

Moazzam Khan said that the fair-weather waterspouts were usually formed along the cumulus type of clouds. "This type of waterspout is generally not associated with thunderstorms, which usually dissipates in short time," he said, adding that such waterspouts lived between five minutes and 10 minutes normally but most up to an hour.

He said that the formation of a waterspout evolved through five different stages. In the first, it grows into disk on water surface, known as a dark spot. In the second, it emerges as a spiral pattern on the surface, in the third, it forms into a spray ring, in the fourth it becomes a visible funnel and in the last it decays. "These waterspouts can be both beautiful as well as dangerous," he warned.

Mahar Gul, who captained a fishing boat 'Hammal' immediately started recording the waterspout event on his mobile phone but avoided going close to the vortex.

He observed a large patch of cloud on the morning over a clear sky on a sunny day, from which the waterspout could be seen descending. According to Mahar, he had witnessed already such a phenomenon some 20 years ago near Jiwani, Balochistan.

A waterspout unlike its name is not filled with water but is a column of cloud-filled wind rotating over the ocean's surface. It descends from a cumulus cloud and the water inside a waterspout is formed by condensation in the cloud. There are two types of waterspouts ie tornadic and fair-weather.

The clouds from which waterspouts descend are not fast-moving, so fair-weather waterspouts are often static. Both waterspouts require high levels of humidity and a relatively warm water temperature compared to the overlying air.

Waterspouts are most common in tropical and subtropical waters but no authentic record of their occurrence is known from Pakistan coast, the WWF-Pakistan said.