AVON LAKE, Ohio — If you've looked out on Lake Erie over the last couple of days and noticed funnel-shaped formations, it's not your imagination.
The 3News weather team and the National Weather Service have been tracking waterspouts over the lake.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a waterspout is defined as a whirling column of air and water mist. Waterspouts fall into two categories: fair weather waterspouts and tornadic waterspouts.
For our purposes in Lake Erie, fair weather waterspouts usually form along the dark flat base of a line of developing cumulus clouds. They develop on the surface of the water and works their way upward. By the time the funnel is visible, a fair weather waterspout is near maturity. Fair weather waterspouts form in light wind conditions so they normally move very little.
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Now that we know what we're talking about, here's what we've seen over the last day or so.
In Avon Lake, viewer Jared Aslaksen captured this shot for us.
Also on Wednesday, Kim Damiano spotted this waterspout in Willowick and tagged our Matt Wintz.
Waterspouts were also observed out as far west as Kelleys Island.
Just east of Cleveland, Marissa Scavuzzo sent our Jason Frazer this video of a waterspout forming on Tuesday evening.
According to the NOAA, if a waterspout moves onshore, the National Weather Service issues a tornado warning, as some of them can cause significant damage and injuries to people. Typically, fair weather waterspouts dissipate rapidly when they make landfall, and rarely penetrate far inland.