Great Lakes record 84 waterspouts in first ‘outbreak’ of 2020

84 waterspouts confirmed over Great Lakes in one week, 42 recorded in one day

A waterspout.

At least 84 waterspouts were recorded over the Great Lakes last week in the lakes’ first waterspout outbreak this year, researchers say.

Waterspouts are whirling columns of air and water mist that are common on the Great Lakes during this time of the year, meteorologists say. Connected to cumulus clouds, waterspouts on the Great Lakes are typically formed when cooler air travels across the warm waters -- and water temperatures in the Great Lakes have been higher than average this summer.

The International Centre for Waterspout Research (ICWR) forecasted the waterspout outbreak a few days prior to it starting and covered the event all week long on social media -- check out some of the photos below.

During what ICWR is calling the “Great Waterspout Outbreak of 2020,” the center says a total of 42 waterspouts were recorded over the Great Lakes just on Wednesday alone. The current record for the most waterspouts in one day stands at 67 from 2013, according to ICWR.

  • Note: The ICWR initially reported a total of 82 confirmed waterspouts that occurred last week. An update was provided Sunday afternoon that the total number had increased to 84.

The ICWR mapped out the locations where waterspouts occurred over the last week -- most of which were confirmed over Lake Erie, with a few over Lake Michigan, Lake Huron and Lake Ontario.

As for the reason behind the recent increase in waterspouts, ICWR says that they are likely seeing more waterspouts simply because advances in technology and social media make them easier to document, report and share.

Officials say there were likely far more waterspouts that occurred last week during the night or in the middle of the lakes where they were less visible, and therefore not reported.

More: Perseid Meteor Shower 2020: Peak dates, how to see them in August

About the Author:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.