DAVID PARKER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DAVID PARKER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
A waterspout is an intense columnar vortex (usually appearing as a funnel-shaped cloud) that occurs over a body of water, connected to a cumuliform cloud. In the common form, it is a non-supercell tornado over water. While it is often weaker than most of its land counterparts, stronger versions spawned by mesocyclones do occur. Waterspouts do not suck up water; the water seen in the main funnel cloud is actually water droplets formed by condensation. Waterspouts have a five-part life cycle: formation of a dark spot on the water surface, spiral pattern on the water surface, formation of a spray ring, development of the visible condensation funnel, and ultimately decay.
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