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Fox News Weather Center

Potent storm may spin up waterspouts over US Great Lakes into Friday

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A chilly storm stalled over the midwestern United States could cause waterspouts to develop over the Great Lakes into Friday.

"A potent storm with plenty of cold air aloft will set the stage for waterspouts for the remainder of the week," AccuWeather Meteorologist Dan Pydynowski said.

Waterspouts form as warm lake waters clash with cold air. This causes moisture from the lake to rise into the atmosphere. With enough spin of the air above the lake surface, this moisture then rotates, causing a waterspout.

Large waves also assist in waterspout development as it allows moisture to be lifted into the air much easier than on a lake with a smooth water surface.

"The greatest threats on Wednesday will be the southern end of Lake Michigan before shifting into the southern end of Lake Huron and western end of Lake Erie on Thursday," Pydynowski said.

Those living along the lakeshore should be on alert for rapidly changing weather conditions over the lakes through Friday. This includes those in the cities of Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Chicago, Illinois; Gary, Indiana; Benton Harbor, Michigan; and Cleveland, Ohio.

Waterspouts are most frequent across the Great Lakes during the late summer and early fall when the water temperatures are at their highest and cool storm systems begin to dive southward from Canada.

Waterspouts and tornadoes are similar, but form differently. Waterspouts tend to form from the lake surface upward. Tornadoes develop from the thunderstorm cloud downward.

While waterspouts are less destructive than tornadoes, any boaters caught in a waterspout could face significant damage. Those living along the coast should seek shelter if a waterspout is approaching.

Most waterspouts fizzle out when reaching the coast, but the strongest may survive inland for a short time producing minor damage to homes and businesses.

A single cloud could produce multiple waterspouts at the same time.

Pending on the track of the storm, as well as where the cold air aloft sets up, waterspouts may continue to form into the upcoming weekend.