Rare Sonoma Coast waterspout captured on video by Santa Rosa hikers
Two hikers from Santa Rosa captured on video a rare waterspout off the Sonoma Coast this week.
Santa Rosa residents Annie Roche and Omar Rogers took the video Tuesday afternoon in the Ocean Cove area north of Jenner.
“To be honest I felt nothing but pure awe and amazement,” wrote Rogers in an email about the sighting. “We just sat and wondered about the raw power and unimaginable force we were witnessing. Nature unfolding like this brings to mind thoughts of eternity.”
According to the National Weather Service, waterspouts like the one in the video are called tornadic waterspouts, and are essentially tornadoes that form over water during storms like the recent atmospheric rivers that pounded Northern California, though they are rare for the region.
“For a waterspout to form, you need an unstable air mass,” said Jeff Lorber, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Monterey office. “The combination of colder air aloft, changing wind direction and changing wind speed as you go higher in the atmosphere sets the conditions for waterspouts.”
While it is uncommon for waterspouts to move to land and become tornadoes, Lorber said they do pose a potential risk to those nearby due to strong winds and debris that could be blown around.
“We do advise people to stay away and find shelter if you do see one, and of course heed any warnings that are issued by the National Weather Service,” Lorber said.
Watch the video below (warning: “Sharknado“ jokes):