Funnel and Waterspout Seen Near Everett

A dramatic series of pictures have been reaching the web and sent to me of a waterspout/funnel cloud over and near Hat Island, located between Everett and Whidbey Island (see map).

Here are some amazing shots of a relatively unusual phenomenon around here (this may not be Oklahoma, but every year we get a few):

Courtesy Sharon Wandler and KING-5

 Look at these extraordinary images from Chris Evans (you can view and access pictures at his website

Courtesy Chris Evans
Courtesy Chris Evans

If you carefully, there appeared to be three funnels.  And here is a close up of the same image.

These funnels were associated with a fairly strong convective cell that was apparent in the Camano Island radar.  The funnels were seen between 4 and 4:15 PM (2300 and 2315 GMT).  The radar reflectively shows some very strong echos (yellow and reds) near the location in question.

A closer in view. Wow..the red dot looks like the position of the funnel!

The radar provides the tops of the convective cell…looks around 20,000 feet (see image).  High for around here, a joke in Oklahoma.

The atmosphere was modestly unstable today, with small amounts of CAPE (convective available potential energy)–the measure of how much energy a rising parcel can acquired from buoyancy.   Here is the plot for around 2 PM–perhaps a few hundred.  Decent for western Washington, comical in Oklahoma.  Lot of instability offshore as the colder air moves in aloft.

There was no real boundary which could cause horizontal rotation (like a front or shear line), so vertical wind shear (winds increased rapidly aloft), must have led to rotation around a horizontal axis that was redirected into the vertical by the strong updraft in the convective cell.  Sounds complicated I know, but one of the great insights meteorologists gained during the past 30 years was how horizontal rotation (rotation around a vertical axis) can result from wind shear in the vertical.

Got to get ready for the Dawg Dash tomorrow at the UW….see link in the upper right.

World Weather Post http://www.worldweatherpost.com/2012/10/20/funnel-and-waterspout-seen-near-everett/

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