At least nine towering waterspouts were spotted Monday over the central portion of China’s largest lake, the Qinghai Lake, in the country’s northwest.
Around 9:40 on Monday, cruise tour agent Hoshul Tsering filmed two such clouds with his cellphone while on a regular patrol over the saline lake.
Video footage provided by Tsering showed a white rotating column over the blue lake, just off the shore of an island in the lake center. Minutes later, a second, S-shaped, funnel cloud took shape near the first one.
“The S-shaped spout was the most spectacular, as the clouds and the water were not yet fully connected. The spout seemed halfway from the water and halfway from the air, but then it joined up as one big S, which was quite unusual. The moment it came into contact with the water, it looked like the eruption of a fountain and gave off a white light, though I couldn’t tell if that was really light or water,” said Tsering, manager of the cruise tour branch at the Qinghai Lake Travel Group Co.
The twin spouts were followed by seven other clouds near the lake center island in a period of about 40 minutes, witnesses said.
Weather forecaster Ma Xuelian said that waterspouts usually appear on large lakes in the autumn, when cold air rushes above the warmer lake waters.
“To put it simply, a waterspout is formed when a tornado meets the water. The relatively low surface pressure coincides with a strong updraft and then they create a force that sucks up the water. So the phenomenon is actually a surge of water vapor,” Ma said.
Even though waterspouts are on water, they can still pose a danger to swimmers, boaters, aircraft and people living near beaches.