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NWS Meteorologist: Waterspout, Not Funnel Cloud Spotted in Macomb Co.

The National Weather Service said funnel cloud sightings, which promoted Macomb County to activate emergency sirens, were actually waterspouts.

just before 5 p.m. Monday in Harrison Township were actually waterspouts, according to the National Weather Service.

NWS Meteorologist Joseph Clark said a funnel started to develop on land but quickly moved about 5 miles east of Mount Clemens on Lake St. Clair.

“A funnel cloud is usually something produced by a severe thunderstorm and if it touches down, you would get a tornado and all the potential damages that go along with that," said Clark.

Waterspouts are much more common and do not produce the associated damage. Clark said waterspouts are formed when cold air passes over warmer water on the lakes and produces thermal updrafts.

"They are a little bit different beasts but when you look at them – they look similar," he said.

The sightings prompted Macomb County to activate emergecy sirens around 4:50 p.m. Monday after a Macomb County Sheriff's deputy spotted the funnel in the sky over Harrison Township.

The NWS did not trigger any emergency warnings to Macomb County, said Clark. 

Vicki Wolber, Macomb County Emergency Management Coordinator, told Patch that her department and the Sheriff's office decided to sound the alarm to "err on the side of caution."

Wolber said one of the three criteria for setting off the sirens for severe weather is someone spotting a funnel cloud.

"In my opinion we did the right thing. We talked through it with sheriff’s dispatch and it was the right decision at the right time with the information we had," Wolber said.

Jenny Whalen August 14, 2012 at 03:47 PM
Looking at that photo, I think Macomb County made the right call. Better safe than sorry, especially with Dundee and Dexter still in recent memory
JChandler August 14, 2012 at 04:24 PM
Agreed - however - it would have been grerat if the local news channels were also notified as to why the sirens were going off. I heard them, came in, put on the TV, and ...... nothing. No reason, no scrolling, nothing on Weather Channel. I was "Huh???"
Dennis August 15, 2012 at 12:07 AM
Hmm, so waterspouts happen over warm water... and just where is the warm water near CVHS??

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