Waterspout spotted off Fujairah coast

Uncommon in the UAE, this phenomenon can develop during periods of changing weather

A waterspout has been filmed swirling off the coast of Fujairah, with the National Centre of Meteorology sharing a video of it on its Twitter feed.

The phenomenon is uncommon in the UAE and but can occur when the conditions are right. Several have been seen before off the coast of Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah and Abu Dhabi.

According to forecasters, they normally happen during periods of unstable weather, especially in the transition of summer to winter, or vice versa.Official definitions describe it as a column of water formed by a whirlwind over the sea. They start from the surface and extend upwards, in a swirling body of condensed water vapour.

Experts say they are fairly static and hardly move, but they may prove dangerous to nearby vessels at sea.

Fujairah has been experiencing heavy rain, which led to the formation of the waterspout.

There are two types – tornadic waterspouts and fair-weather waterspouts. Tornadic waterspouts are the start of a true tornado.

The type spotted off the coast of the UAE was a fair-weather waterspout, which develops when conditions are warm, humid and the air is unstable.

They require high levels of humidity and warm waters, and are most common in tropical and subtropical seas, oceans and lakes. The average spout is about 50 metres (165 feet) in diameter and has winds of up to 80 kilometres per hour.

They exist for an average of five to 10 minutes but have been known to last up to 20. While they are not as dangerous as tornadoes, their land-based relation, they pose a danger to vessels and small boats.

Waterspouts can also damage coral reefs and kill marine organisms close to the surface.

Dark spots on the water followed by rings or a sudden gust of wind can be a signal a waterspout is developing.

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Updated: October 27, 2021, 10:06 AM