Waterspout Along Oregon Coast

October 28, 2010

Photographer: Randy Scholten
Summary Author: Randy Scholten; Jim Foster

October 2010 Earth Science Picture of the Day Viewer's Choice

The alarming waterspout featured above formed over the Pacific Coast of Oregon, just offshore of Humbug Mountain five miles (8 km) south of Port Orford, Oregon. This photo was snapped at approximately 5:35 p.m. on October 24, 2010. A funnel cloud formed after a pitch-black, low cloud mass passed overhead. The parent cloud then moved over Humbug Mountain (at left) while the funnel moved along Humbug's northern  base (facing the camera). A large amount of sea water seemed to be pulled up into the elongated spout, which, since Humbug Mountain stands 1,756 ft (535 m) high, I estimate it loomed more than 600 feet (183 m) above the ocean surface. Waterspouts are usually non-tornadic and, as such, do not suck up water. They generally occur in the tropics or in the lower mid-latitudes during the summer season and most often dissipate upon reaching shore. It's thus possible that the spout was associated with weak tornadic activity -- F0 or F1 or the Fujita Scale. This engrossing whirlwind lasted approximately two minutes before vanishing.

Photo Details: Camera Maker: NIKON CORPORATION; Camera Model: NIKON D200; Lens: 18.0-70.0 mm f/3.5-4.5; Focal Length: 70mm (35mm equivalent: 105mm); Focus Distance: Infinite; Aperture: f/8.0; Exposure Time: 0.0040 s (1/250); ISO equiv: 400; Exposure Bias: none; Metering Mode: Matrix; Exposure: program (Auto); White Balance: Auto; Flash Fired: No; Color Space: sRGB.