Ads are being blocked

For us to continue writing great stories, we need to display ads.

Un-block Learn more


Please select the extension that is blocking ads.

Ad Block Plus Ghostery uBlock Other Blockers

Please follow the steps below

The Great Lakes Should Be on the Lookout for Waterspouts

There’s a decent chance these ghostly spinners will pop up Thursday on Lake Erie.

A man observes twin waterspouts in northern Indonesia in 2009. (Yusuf Ahmad/Reuters)

In the unlikely event it rains fish in Detroit and Cleveland today, it’s probably not some deity’s weird act of rage but the result of waterspouts on the Great Lakes.

In the wake of a cold front sweeping over the region, these ghostly spinners could appear Thursday on Lake Erie, the National Weather Service says in a “hazardous weather outlook.” The International Centre For Waterspout Research is also predicting ‘spouts Thursday as cool air blankets the lakes. Here’s a snap from the center’s experimental prediction tool, which relies on something called the “Szilagyi Waterspout Index” (red and yellow areas have high chances of formation):


The center’s tool also sees possible waterspouts on Friday over a wider area, though the odds are lower:


There’s been a lot of tumultuous weather around the Great Lakes recently, with people spotting waterspouts on Wednesday from both sides of the U.S./Canadian border. Needless to say, it’s not a great time to go swimming:

About the Author

  • John Metcalfe
    John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.