Waterspout seen off Selsey

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Unusual weather conditions whipped up a waterspout seen off Selsey and Bognor Regis.

This stunning picture was captured by Max Gilligan, and the video was filmed by Martin Thomas.

The waterspout, with Selsey Lifeboat Station in the foreground. Picture: Max Gilligan

The waterspout, with Selsey Lifeboat Station in the foreground. Picture: Max Gilligan

Action stopped on the final day of the Goodwood Festival of Speed 2014 on Sunday as a waterspout appeared in the sky.

Crowds, photographers and performers paused to look up at what appeared to be a tornado, just after 6.45pm.

A lifeboat was launched off the coast of Selsey as a precaution.

Dan Williams, a spokesman for the Met Office, said: ‘We get quite a few waterspouts in a year.

‘They are defined as a tunnel-shaped cloud which touches down over the sea, whereas a tornado is one which touches down on land.

‘There is no regularity in tornadoes but we would reckon to get about 30 sightings a year.

‘There is no record of how many waterspouts there are. They may be possibly more but it depends on how many are seen. I imagine a lot probably go unseen.’

Waterspouts are formed in a turbulent area of weather with up and down draughts close to a rain cloud. They are caused by warm temperatures in the lower atmosphere and high humidity.

The updraught becomes horizontal and extends downwards to suck up air to keep itself invigorated.

Eventually, the downdraught which inevitably accompanies rain will snuff out the waterspout.

‘In the UK, the waterspouts and tornadoes we have are nothing like the ones they get in America.

‘They are pretty weak efforts and don’t have much impact,’ said Mr Williams. ‘But they do look spectacular. There is no evidence they are getting more or less common.’