Water spout tails poked out of cloud banks north of Wailua late Tuesday afternoon. The unusual weather phenomenon, also known as a funnel cloud, reportedly also occurred off Nawiliwili during the recent days of light southeast-east winds.
Water spouts are tall, rotating columns of moisturized air. According to a “Glossary of Severe Weather Terms” found on the University of Hawai’i’s www.soest.hawaii.edu weather Web site, a water spout is an offshore tornado.
Water spouts can develop in coastal waters during times of unstable weather over warm ocean waters, according to a report
Though not as dangerous as a tornado, a water spout can do damage to a boat or ship at sea. Unlike a tornado, forming over open waters a water spout doesn’t pick up vegetation or pieces of buildings as it zips along.
A water spout can move onshore and become a tornado, but water spouts are known to lose force rapidly once off an open body of water.
Tornadoes are rare occurrences in Hawai’i, while water spouts can be spotted each year in Hawaiian waters.