waterspout
The start of summer in Michigan brought a typical fall weather character- a waterspout. In fact, after the waterspout, an even more winter-like precipitation form fell, called graupel.

To kick off astronomical summer this week, Michigan had some very cold air for this time of year. High temperatures were only in the 60s. When I looked at the upper-air temperatures, which are vitally important for waterspouts and graupel, the temperature over Leelanau County was 33 degrees at 5,000 feet and 19 degrees at 9,000 feet.

That's fall-like upper-air temperatures to start astronomical summer. The cold air flowing over the relatively warm water of Lake Michigan set off five waterspouts. The temperature difference between the air just over the water surface and the air aloft causes the waterspouts to form.

John Piombo, executive chef at The Homestead on Lake Michigan at the Sleeping Bear Dunes, caught the multiple waterspouts in the video below. The video was shot from the deck of Cafe Manitou, overlooking Lake Michigan.


The waterspouts occurred Tuesday, June 22, just before lunchtime.

Laurie Sykes lives on south end of Glen Lake, and caught the waterspouts over on Lake Michigan. Her video is below.


Sykes just became a trained weather spotter for the National Weather Service and was excited to have interesting weather to report.

I saw a Facebook thread with folks wondering if this was a tornado or a waterspout. One person mentioned that as soon as a tornado hits the water, it's a waterspout. That's not true. A raging, violent tornado can cross a lake, and it's still a destructive tornado. It would continue on land and do damage. This was a waterspout, born from the water temperature to aloft temperature. This waterspout would probably only survive for seconds and just hundreds of feet if it did come onshore.

Winds in the swirling waterspout are probably somewhere between 60 mph and 80 mph. So they are still dangerous, especially if you are in a boat.

Now an even stranger weather feature occurred - graupel. Here's a video of the graupel John Piombo caught falling at The Homestead as the waterspout occurred.


Graupel is a tiny snowball. Some would call it small hail, but it really isn't. Hail would be more of a piece of pure ice. Graupel is white and bounces off the ground like a snowball. Whether it's hail or graupel, it means the air sure was cold for this time of year.