Waterspout over Lake Erie, off of Lorain, Ohio
© Jeffrey Paul
Waterspout over Lake Erie, off of Lorain, Ohio on Wednesday, August 5, 2020.
In the Great Lakes region we can get set for what I call waterspout season. The summer weather leading up to today could lead us into a banner waterspout season. As of last week, we've already seen a record amount of waterspouts.

The waterspout set-up is pretty simple, and very similar to a lake-effect snow situation. Cold air aloft blowing over warm water surfaces, with some added switching of wind directions, and we have the makings of a waterspout outbreak.

This happened last week over the Great Lakes. The cold air aloft is heavy. The warm air rises off the Great Lakes surfaces. If a wind shift line blows through an area, some rotation is started. A waterspout is born.

The International Centre For Waterspout Research (ICWR) has reported seven days in a row of waterspouts on the Great Lakes. They have been calling this past week "the Great Waterspout Outbreak of 2020." Today the ICWR has declared a record number of waterspouts for last week. There were 84 waterspouts last week, with the old record being 67 waterspouts in 2013.

The outbreak of waterspouts is winding down for now, since warmer temperatures aloft are on the way. Again it's exactly the same as when lake-effect snow diminishes as warmer air moves in.

The International Centre For Waterspout Research runs a forecast model. Here is the model run from last Friday showing a small area of western Lake Erie would be the place for waterspouts. The modeling worked out to be accurate.

On Wednesday, August 5, 2020, the ICWR counted 42 waterspouts, mostly on Lake Erie and one over Lake Ontario. The ICWR says their daily record tally of waterspouts is 67 back in October of 2013. There have also been waterspouts on Lake Michigan this week.