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Moment a colossal waterspout is spotted off the coast of Florida's Panhandle

The moment a hulking waterspout is spotted off the coast of Florida’s Panhandle that brought ominous clouds and heavy winds to the resort town

  • A waterspout is a swirling column of air and water mist that forms when cumulus clouds grow rapidly
  • This event was spotted off the coast of Destin, Florida, in the Panhandle Tuesday morning
  • The colossal funnel flowed into the Gulf of Mexico with dark gray clouds at the top and lightning bolts in the sky around it

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The moment a hulking waterspout ripped through the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Destin, Florida on Tuesday was captured on film, revealing a weather phenomenon that sent shivers down the spines of residents as they walked past it on their morning drives.

A waterspout is a swirling column of air and water mist that forms when cumulus clouds grow rapidly. They can rise hundreds of meters into the air and are called tornadoes on the water.

The giant funnel was seen around 7 a.m. ET off the Emerald Coast, in the area known as the Panhandle, and was caused by intense storms pouring over the Gulf.

Many residents captured the looming spectacle, most notably Boo Freeman who saw the waterspout in the distance of the sea as he stood in awe on an empty beach. “What a morning,” Freeman shared on Instagram accompanying the short video.

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A resident saw a waterspout on his way to work on Tuesday morning.  This weather phenomenon is a swirling column of air and water mist that forms when cumulus clouds grow rapidly

A resident saw a waterspout on his way to work on Tuesday morning. This weather phenomenon is a swirling column of air and water mist that forms when cumulus clouds grow rapidly

The waterspout swirls around in the sea, with giant gray clouds spewing from the top and light crackling in the sky around it.

AccuWeather‘s Jesse Ferrell said this was not your typical waterspout.

“It appears that this was a legitimate overwater tornado formed by a supercell thunderstorm, not a faint waterspout created by a rainstorm,” Ferrell explains.

Weather data shows that a strong thunderstorm appeared near the shoreline that activated the funnel, which moved southeast across the sea.

There was an intense storm over the Gulf that caused the waterspout.  Pictured is an empty beach that was evacuated when the funnel was spotted

There was an intense storm over the Gulf that caused the waterspout.  Pictured is an empty beach that was evacuated when the funnel was spotted

There was an intense storm over the Gulf that caused the waterspout. Pictured is an empty beach that was evacuated when the funnel was spotted

The funnel was visible even a few kilometers from its origin.  Resort residents flocked to the coast to capture the spectacle

The funnel was visible even a few kilometers from its origin.  Resort residents flocked to the coast to capture the spectacle

The funnel was visible even a few kilometers from its origin. Resort residents flocked to the coast to capture the spectacle

Shortly after the waterspout was sighted, the National Weather Service issued a special marine warning, urging boaters and swimmers to stay out of the water.

This waterspout is the fifth reported in Florida’s Panhandle area this summer, but data on these weather phenomena is lacking and experts aren’t sure how common they are.

Another waterspout formed in Maryland earlier this month and was much more destructive than what was observed in Florida.

The funnel overflowed Smith Island in the Chesapeake Bay on Aug. 5, destroying several homes and injuring one person.

Images circulating on social media show the disastrous aftermath of Smith Island, with homes completely destroyed and rubble scattered among the ruins of property.

Two others, also in the 51-second clip, yell, “Where are the kids?” as the waterspout moves up the bank and continues inland.

The mother of two reassures the others that her children were inside.

“Several cabins were also destroyed and a boat overturned,” Daniel Somers told Chesapeake Bay magazine.

A waterspout is also called a tornado on the water.  The National Weather Service issued a special marine warning shortly after the waterspout was sighted, urging boaters and swimmers to stay out of the water

A waterspout is also called a tornado on the water.  The National Weather Service issued a special marine warning shortly after the waterspout was sighted, urging boaters and swimmers to stay out of the water

A waterspout is also called a tornado on the water. The National Weather Service issued a special marine warning shortly after the waterspout was sighted, urging boaters and swimmers to stay out of the water

This is the fifth waterspout reported by the National Weather Service for the Florida Panhandle this summer.  Data on how often waterspouts occur is not common and most events are unreported

This is the fifth waterspout reported by the National Weather Service for the Florida Panhandle this summer.  Data on how often waterspouts occur is not common and most events are unreported

This is the fifth waterspout reported by the National Weather Service for the Florida Panhandle this summer. Data on how often waterspouts occur is not common and most events are unreported

He initially shared the video on his Facebook page, where many people sent good wishes to him and his family.

Posting the clip, he wrote: “Amy and the kids are on Smith Island this week. She just sent me this. Grateful that everyone is okay. A lot of damage though.’

1 user replied, ‘Houses and materialistic things can be rebuilt. Lives can’t. God is good and had his protection over all the people on the island.’

Another commented: ‘OMG, that’s the worst I’ve ever seen. I don’t know how they were able to stay there by the water and look at it. I would have taken cover and been terrified.’

More than $10,000 has been raised for recovery and cleanup efforts after the tornado destroyed several homes and businesses.

The intense humidity and heat in the area over the past few days has caused the waterspouts to drag themselves across the water and then onto land to become a tornado.

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