VIDEO: Florida Beachgoers Film Massive Waterspout Amid Thunderstorm

by Alex Falls

Impressive video footage captured a dramatic waterspout that loomed over coastal waters in northwest Florida on Tuesday morning. Thunder and lightning storms briefly rocked the area and created an awe-inspiring sight that left spectators amazed. And a little scared.

The stunning scene near the city of Destin was captured by a person on the beach who posted the video for everyone to see on Instagram. The video panned from a sprawling and low-hanging dark cloud to a massive tornado-like funnel that appeared to connect the ocean and sky. 

The National Weather Service of Mobile, Alabama and Pensacola, Florida, said in a tweet that storms in the area were producing a large waterspout offshore as the agency warned boaters to use caution. The tweet also said the storm appeared to be moving parallel to the coast off Miramar Beach.

The natural phenomenon is called a waterspout, which the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration describes as a “whirling column of air and water mist.” While “fair weather” waterspouts are typically associated with milder weather, “tornadic” waterspouts occur during severe thunderstorms and mimic the general qualities of a tornado. Those can be dangerous according to the NOAA, especially if they travel over land.

According to reports, a handful of waterspouts popped up along the coast of Northern Florida during Tuesday’s storms. But luckily none of them moved to land.

A Tornado of Another Variety

Extremely windy conditions can cause tremendous damage if they funnel into a tornado. But tornados can actually come in different forms. Just last week, another video of a tornado made waves online. A tornado made of fire. Nicknamed the “Sam Fire,” the terrifying blaze ripped through California’s hilly terrain while decimating anything in its path.

The blaze broke out in Gorman, near Old Ridge Route and Lancaster Road, around 5pm Wednesday. According to the LA County Fire Departement’s Air Operations Section, the huge collum of fire, also known as a “firenado,” likely resulted from “dry, receptive fuels and erratic winds from intense surface heating.”

The massive “firenado” swept through the northwestern area of Los Angeles County and inflamed around 150 acres. Over 200 first responders arrived to help fight the flames. They were able to contain 60% of the flames by the following day.

The raging blaze did not reach any buildings fortunately. However, portions of Highway 138 were shut down due to the blaze. Firefighters worked all through the night to eep the flames from spreading to any populated areas.

How the fire began is still unclear according to authorities. Fire tornados are not a common occurrence, but they can occur when tumultuous winds combine with rising temperatures in a dry environment.