Incredible footage of 'scary' ocean phenomenon captured off Sydney

·News Reporter
·2-min read

Sydneysiders were fascinated by a bizarre ocean phenomenon that appeared off the coast of Coogee, a popular beachside suburb, on Friday.

A local resident who was on the beach at the time caught the so-called waterspout on camera as the spinning column moved aggressively across the sea.

According to the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), waterspouts are “a spinning column of air that sucks up water to make a twisting funnel of water and cloud connecting the sea and the sky.”

They are “spectacular but short-lived,” usually only lasting up to five minutes – and this Coogee local happened to catch it.

Waterspouts are uncommon and only ever last a few short minutes. Source: Reddit
Waterspouts are uncommon and only ever last a few short minutes. Source: Reddit

In the footage shared on Reddit, the vortex-like wind tunnel seems easy to miss at first, but after zooming in you can see the waterspout clearly as dark and heavy rain clouds roll towards the beach.

Others commented on the video saying they’d seen it too, but one said it was “scary” being so close to shore.

'A pretty impressive natural phenomenon'

Waterspouts can form during smaller storms or heavy showers, and with the heavy rain that’s plummeted down on Australia's east coast over the past few days, it’s not surprising one appeared.

"They form when relatively cool air passes over warm water," Ben Domensino, Meteorologist at Weatherzone told Yahoo News Australia.

"Sea surface temperatures in the Tasman Sea are currently 1 to 2ºC warmer than usual for this time of year, which would help in the formation of waterspouts."

Winds inside the waterspout can be faster than 100 km/h, according to BOM, and they can do great damage to boats at sea.

While they are a rare sight, the incredible weather event most commonly occurs along the NSW and Queensland coast of Australia.

But on Thursday, John Rawsthorne, spotted one off Nightcliff jetty, a popular fishing spot in Darwin.

A waterspout formed off Nightcliff jetty in Darwin

Another man captured a waterspout forming off Nightcliff jetty, Darwin. Source: Facebook

“A pretty impressive natural phenomenon. A waterspout off Nightcliff jetty just now,” he shared on Facebook at about 5pm on Thursday.

“That’s amazing!” one user commented.

“That’s pretty cool! Wish I saw it,” said another.

A third person said there’s been “quite a few” off Nightcliff over the years.

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