While a funnel cloud sighting over land is a signal to seek shelter, spotting a tornadic waterspout is a moment of unforgettable wonder. It's waterspout season in the Great Lakes, and these images from Kenosha, Wisc. are truly awesome.
Two towering clouds were spotted Thursday by Officer Michael Madsen of the Kenosha Police Department. He took this photo of the waterspouts rising off the shores of Lake Michigan, while reporting their status to dispatch.
Tornadic waterspouts are, quite simply, funnel clouds that form on an ocean, sea or large lake -- often during a severe thunderstorm. Still, the whirling wonders are usually far weaker than land tornados, and more common to tropical climates. But waterspouts habitually appear on the Great Lakes in the fall, when cold air rushes above the warmer lake waters. 2012 was a record-breaking year on the Great Lakes, when an incredible 186 waterspouts were recorded.
Even though waterspouts are on water, they can still pose a danger to swimmers, boaters, aircraft and people living near beaches.
Check out the video above to (safely) see Lake Michigan's stunning waterspouts.
CBS Chicago reported that strong storms in the Kenosha area created both a large spout and a second, smaller funnel cloud, which reportedly was moving south toward the nearby city of Waukegan. While the Kenosha Unified School District began emergency weather procedures after spotting the clouds, students were able to go back to class after 20 minutes.
Here's another photo from the Kenosha Police Department Facebook page.