MAJORCA, Spain – Boaters off the coast of Spain got quite the surreal sight Friday that might have looked more like something from the mind of a Hollywood disaster flick director than Mother Nature: four waterspouts spinning together in nearly the same spot.
Anton Adanero Guinea was boating off the eastern side of the island of Majorca when the waterspouts formed amid somewhat stormy weather in the region.
Waterspouts are, generally speaking, known as simply tornadoes that form over water, but there are two types of waterspouts -- one more dangerous than the other.
"Tornadic" waterspouts form from severe thunderstorms just like their tornado cousins. They can accompany strong winds, locally high seas, frequent lightning, and large hail, and thus can be dangerous to mariners suddenly caught in their path.
Then there are "fair weather" waterspouts, which form only over open water.
"They develop at the surface of the water and climb skyward associated with warm water temperatures and high humidity in the lowest several thousand feet of the atmosphere," said Meteorologist Bruce B. Smith with the National Weather Service office in Gaylord, Michigan. "They are usually small, relatively brief, and less dangerous."
Despite the storms in that area of Spain, these appear to be the fair-weather version of waterspouts.
"Fair weather" or not, the National Weather Service recommends any boaters who spot a waterspout move at a 90-degree angle away from the waterspout's path.