Photo Credit: YouTube screengrab, News/Incidents
Waterspout off the coast of the southern port city of Ashdod on Jan. 3, 2022

Residents of Ashdod were amazed late Monday afternoon when a huge waterspout arose from the waters of the nearby Mediterranean Sea.

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A waterspout is a kind of liquid tornado that forms over water, descending from a cumulus cloud to an ocean or lake. Sometimes they move from land to the water; but the point is, they have the same characteristics as a land tornado.

The US National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) describes it as a “whirling column of air and water mist.” Those that move from the water to land can be dangerous, with wind speeds as high as 50 miles per hour.

There are two types: a fair-weather waterspout that occurs over open water when cool air sweeps across the surface, sucking the water up into the cyclone, and a tornadic waterspout that takes place during thunderstorm conditions or hurricanes.

Israel has experienced a series of rainstorms that began this weekend. Rain and stormy weather is in the forecast for the rest of the week as well.

If a tornadic waterspout hits land, however, a tornado warning is sent out for local communities.

A similar waterspout was spotted off the coast of Netanya about a year ago.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.