California hikers capture video of rare waterspout

Waterspout over ocean
(Image credit: Getty)

Two hikers from Santa Rosa, California, were amazed to spot a rare waterspout off the Sonoma Coast this week, and managed to capture the moment on video. Annie Roche and Omar Rogers noticed the waterspout in the Ocean Cove area – a particular scenic area popular area for hiking and camping.

"To be honest I felt nothing but pure awe and amazement," Rogers told the Press Democrat. "We just sat and wondered about the raw power and unimaginable force we were witnessing. Nature unfolding like this brings to mind thoughts of eternity."

Back home, the pair uploaded a video of their experience to Reddit (embedded below). 

pretty_sweet_find_hiking_the_sonoma_county_coast from r/bayarea

As National Geographic (opens in new tab) explains, a waterspout is a column of rotating, cloud-filled wind that descends from cumulus clouds (opens in new tab) to an ocean or lake. The water inside the spout is caused by water vapor from the cloud condensing; it isn't sucked up by the wind.

There are two main types of waterspouts: tornadic waterspouts, and fair weather waterspouts. Fair weather waterspouts like the one spotted by Roche and Rogers are the more common of the two, and are often static. They require high humidity and relatively high water temperature in order to form, and are most likely to occur in tropical and subtropical areas, making this Sonoma spout quite unusual.

Fair weather waterspouts usually dissipate quickly if they reach land, according to the National Ocean Service (opens in new tab), and rarely move far onshore.

Cat Ellis
Editor

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 13 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better).