Severe weather warnings, waterspouts along shoreline - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

PHOTOS: Waterspouts spin over Lake Michigan

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CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

Dispatchers were inundated with emergency calls Thursday afternoon as several waterspouts were seen along the Lake Michigan shoreline in the northern suburbs, Pioneer Press is reporting.

"We had multiple waterspouts over Lake Michigan," said Shauna Haske, a Winthrop Harbor Fire Department shift commander. "It was odd because the sun was still shining at the station. Marina security (at Northpoint Marina in Winthrop Harbor) saw them and notified us just in case."

National Weather Service meteorologist David Beachler explained that cooler air going over warm water mixing with convergent winds make this a great time for waterspouts.

"Conditions look conducive over the next couple of days for all of the Great Lakes," he said.

Beachler noted that this was the first series of waterspouts of the season.

"If it moves onto land, it would be a tornado," he said. "Generally they are much less intense. It still rotates, but it's much weaker."

A boat could be damaged by a waterspout, but Beachler said they are typically easily seen and avoided by mariners.

"They are a little more common this time of year," he said.

The NWeather Service on Thursday issued a special marine warning and small craft advisory along the Lake Michigan shoreline.

The warnings, from Winthrop Harbor to Wilmette Harbor, note forecasts of "showers and thunderstorms capable of producing a waterspout and strong winds to 40 knots over Winthrop Harbor," according to the Weather Service.

"The Kenosha Airport observer reported seeing a waterspout southeast of the airport," the alert stated.

Waves can reach 10 to 14 feet, according to the alert.

The Weather Service invites people to publish photographs of waterspouts on its Facebook page.

Jeremy Bloom of Pleasant Prairie Wis., posted a picture of twin spouts taken by a friend at 1:30 p.m. off Carol Beach. Michael Madsen of the Kenosha Police Department took a picture of large and small waterspouts next to each other.

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