TWEED storm chasers were talking and Cabarita residents were gawking yesterday afternoon as a waterspout loomed off the coast of Cabarita Beach.
The waterspout combined with dark storm clouds to present an ominous image for those out and about in the wet weather.
A Weatherzone meteorologist said the waterspout was as a result of unusual storm conditions.
"The waterspouts were associated with a strong thunderstorm, which was combined with a slow moving air mass. There has been a few reported," he said.
"Cold upper air masses combine with warm ocean temperatures and easterly wind which causes strong convection, which encourages the formation of waterspouts."
In other words, warm oceans have led to unstable air masses.
The meteorologist said that waterspouts could be quite dangerous, as seen in June 2010, when a spout hit ground at Lennox Head.
"It crossed the town's caravan park which sent debris flying, knocked over power poles and ripped roofs from buildings," he said.
"They are not too uncommon, but when they hit land they break up quite rapidly. They usually last about ten minutes on land."
The meteorologist said that people should avoid the waterspouts, because they posed serious risks.
"Some do have the potential to cause loss of life. Certainly don't go driving (a boat) into one. You'd have a nice ride and probably get thrown a long distance."
He also said that there was potential for more waterspouts over the coming days.
"You can get them forming in regular showers, they're quite common on the NSW and Queensland coast. This one was a bit stronger because it was formed in a thunderstorm."
The meteorologist explained that most waterspouts, including yesterday's, were not associated with tornados, but still provided an interesting spectacle.
"Some waterspouts you get are associated with tornadic activity. In this instance the storms weren't tornadic."
There were other waterspouts spotted by meteorologists along the east coast yesterday, with two forming at Hastings Point.
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