Safety-conscious kayak anglers know that weather conditions are one thing you can’t afford to ignore. Whether checking out the local forecast or keeping an eye on developing conditions, it’s important to stay abreast of Mother Nature’s changing moods. That’s great, but what if a fair-weather waterspout appears out of nowhere and bears down on your boat? The answer, as we see in this video—hang on!
What is a Waterspout?
Waterspouts are formed from an intense vortex of warm, updrafting air over the water’s surface. Large, tornadic waterspouts are most common in tropical ocean waters, but they have been reported from Antarctica to the Great Lakes and beyond. Large waterspouts can be a serious marine hazard, so ocean-going kayakers should look out for special warnings from the U.S. National Weather Service.
Fair-weather waterspouts (as seen in the video) form in the absence of thunderstorm activity and are more commonly seen on lakes and smaller waterbodies. They develop and dissipate rapidly, packing wind speeds no stronger than 67 miles per hour. Fair-weather waterspouts have more in common with landspouts—also known as “dust devils”—than land-based tornadoes. Usually, they don’t pose a serious threat to properly prepared paddleboaters.
“Oh My God, Water Spouts on the Water!”
So, what can you do in a situation like this? First off, stay aware of your surroundings and always wear a PFD. Fair-weather waterspouts have the potential to send a kayak flying, so leash your gear and brush up on your self-rescue training. Always fish with a friend and keep an eye out for your fellow boaters. Be prepared to offer assistance when necessary.
Finally, in rare circumstances waterspouts have been known to suck fish right out of the water and send them raining down from the sky—so keep your landing net handy!