August 10, 2012


Initial Target: Wind Point, WI
Departure: Springfield, IL 11:00 pm August 9
Arrival: Springfield, IL 12:00 pm August 11
Intercepts: None
Tornadoes: 0
Hail: Non-Severe (not measured)
Wind: Non-Severe (not measured)
Features: None
Miles: 586


Waterspout spotting from Wind Point, WI. Arrived at dawn and shot time lapse of cumulus but observed no waterspouts. Ended chase by early afternoon.

Crew and Equipment:

Solo chase.  Equipment:  Kenwood TH-F6A Tribander, Dell Inspiron Laptop.  Millenicom 760 USB datacard and cradlepoint router, Holux 236 GPS, Canon 60D and EF-S 10-22mm

Additional photography courtesy: Jennifer Brindley Ubl




After an unusually hot summer, the water temperatures on Lake Michigan were at record levels. The lake was primed for waterspouts, and the first blasts of chilly fall air would spin up dozens during the fall waterspout season. A cold front was forecast to overtake the lake on Friday, combined with the warm lake surface, we had our first decent waterspout setup of the year. I left the night before from Springfield, getting on the road fairly late in the evening. I had the energy to drive straight through the night and keep going though. I arrived at Wind Point, WI just before dawn and setup on a dock to shoot a time lapse, wrapped in a blanket as the air was pretty brisk.

I was soon joined by Jennifer Brindley Ubl, Jonathan Williamson, and Jesse Risley. We all converged at the lighthouse park ready to start scanning the horizon and distant updraft bases for spouts.

We walked up and down the beach, ducking out of some passing rain showers, but weren't spotting any spouts. There was a line of towering cumulus moving briskly across the lake several miles to our east, so things looked promising. I shot another time lapse from the park.

Jesse scans the horizon for spouts, his pro video camera draped in a protective covering to protect it from the rain:

Jon on his phone:

It was a beautiful day on the lake despite being a bit chilly and windy. Lots of folks were coming by the park to take pictures and were surprised that we were out looking for waterspouts when they asked. By early afternoon the cumulus had pushed off and things were looking pretty bleak for spouts. We called it and drove into Racine to get some lunch. I had been up for over 24 hours at this point, so went back to Jenn's place and crashed on their couch before heading home.


Conditions looked good on the lake for spouts, but we didn't see any. Perhaps it was too windy, or we didn't have any vorticity generating boundaries to work with. It's always a fun and relaxed time, spout spotting from a scenic location with friends so i wasn't sad I went, however.


Lessons Learned: 

  • Waterspout spotting can be hit or miss even with favorable temperature differentials.