CLEVELAND - Waterspouts are common on Lake Erie. They normally form when very chilly air blows over our warm lake during summer or fall. Boaters know to keep their distance from these whirl winds, since waterspouts can have winds between 60 & 100 mph. That's enough to capsize any small craft on the water.
But little research existed on waterspout prediction until recently. Wade Szilagyi, of Meteorological Services of Canada developed his Szilagyi Waterspout Index (SWI) in 2009. This index is now becoming more mainstream with boaters and forecasters.
A lot of work went into developing the index. Szilagyi analyzed atmospheric conditions surrounding a whopping 263 waterspout events from 1988 to 2009. The scientist found the strongest predictors of waterspout events were the difference in temperature between the water & the air at about 5,000 feet; the depth of the clouds, and the wind speed at 5,000 feet above the lake surface.
Using these parameters, he developed the SWI. This waterspout index uses a scale of -10 to +10. Waterspouts are likely with any number above zero. and the closer the number gets to +10, the higher the likelihood of spouts.
I've included in the above photo section, the SWI index for the Great Lakes for this Sunday. Notice the red shaded areas over Lake Huron, Lake Michigan, & southern Lake Superior. This indicates SWI numbers of +10. In other words, waterspouts are very likely in these areas on Sunday. Based on the SWI scale, the threat for waterspouts is high for Sunday over Lake Erie. The yellow pixels over the lake indicate an SWI number for Lake Erie of +6 to +9 this Sunday morning. That means boaters will need to beware of 'spouts on the lake this weekend!
Here's a link to the SWI WaterSpout Index Page: Click Here.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden is heading home to help his cherished Oklahoma heal.
Federal forecasters are predicting yet another busy hurricane season for the Atlantic.