A waterspout is a vortex appearing over a body of water: a terrifying link from cloud to sea. These sketches are from a 1798 pamphlet in our archives.

This image is the foot of a spout from 6 January 1789. The caption reads 

On the left hand are seen the clouds which rise towards the zenith, but still considerably distant. This foot had plumes elevated nearly like sails, and was driven towards the shore by the wind. In proportion as it came near the land it contracted and was reduced into a column of mist, which the wind overset on the land the moment the supply of water was wanting.

 This next image is from the same day:

“Nothing could more nearly resemble a ship of war on fire than this phenomenon, excepting that no flames appeared. I have endeavoured to shew the continual jets of its surrounding vapour, and of the water which issued from the center. At b are seen the remains of a water spout after it has been destroyed by the foot having touched the ground.

On the left of this next illustration, a represents the foot of the second water-spout ready formed, which was probably the third. It has yet no spout. At b is seen a protuberance tending obliquely towards the east, and advancing to the west with the cloud to which it is suspended.

Finally, this illustration shows two spouts. The authors writes that the wind was less strong on this day than the 6 January spouts above, and the phenomenon was proportionally less. 

It may be seen at a and b that the surrounding plumes of the foot had not the power to raise themselves up as in the preceding figures, but were kept down by the wind.

And here’s a modern-day photograph of the phenomenon:


Giant waterspout twister hits Italian coast

A giant waterspout twister was seen in Genoa, northwestern Italy this Tuesday.

This splendor was shot by a Russian tourist on a heavy rainy day with thunder and lightning when the waterspout surfaced and rocketed to the sky.

According to relevant meteorological reports, waterspouts are an intense columnar vortex occurring over waters and connected to towering cumulonimbus. A waterspout is often weaker than its land counterparts.