Key West Waterspout
September 2, 2002



                                        mpeg movie click here

It's Labor Day and I headed down to Key West to pick my girlfriend up at the
airport. As I near Key West I see this long broken cumulus line stretching
SE to NW right over Key West. About 5 miles out I see this funnel which
appears to be N or W of the airport. I watched this funnel for about 5 minutes
then called the National Weather Service Office in Key West. I said do you
guys see that funnel out your back window. About the time they looked out
the funnel dissipated so naturally I looked like I was seeing things. They just
missed it. So anyway, I head over to the airport for the pickup. Since I got there
early I parked at a nearby park in the shade and listened to my ham radio for the
aircraft frequency. I heard a Cesna call on the frequency, then a Beechcraft, and
about 10 minutes later a Sarratoga. Bingo, that's the plane she's on. The pilot radioed
in that he was 6 miles to the north. Ham radios are great and I'm glad I got that
license. I went to the airport, walked in, and watched the plane pull up and cut
the props. How's that for timing???

After picking up my passenger, we headed for the local TGIF for lunch. About
half way through my burger I looked out the window and saw a purple cumulus
line running SE to NW. Wow, where did that come from I said. I excused myself
for a minute to go outside and take a look. Humm, nice base and some rain
to the SE. I'll definitely have to keep my eye and that I thought. So I went back
in to TGIF to finished my meal. Another 10 minutes of small talk went by and I
heard someone in a booth yell, "Wow, look at that Big Waterspout!". I immediately
bolted up and headed for the door. Oops, forgot about the girlfriend, and turned
back around. I said let's go but we hadn't gotten our check. She said for me to
go for it . . . she would stay and pay. I slapped down a $20 and said I'll be right back.
How's that for a girlfriend??

It was a monster Waterspout! Unfortunately, I wanted to get closer and get the
spray ring too. But that meant fighting the traffic. I jumped in the Maxima and
immediately got jammed up in parking lot traffic. @$&%^!$ Traffic. I knew this
spout had been around for a while and it could break up at any moment. I took
a short cut behind some buildings and finally got around one jam, hit one light
green, then cut across traffic and parked up on the sidewalk on North Roosevelt.

Dang, it was much smaller than earlier. I pulled out the tripod, centered the bubble,
and slapped the camera in the quick release. It was still a pretty good waterspout
at this time. I did the usual pans and zooms. The spot regenerated service times
just north of the Navy housing area. This spout was in front of the rain band . . .
odd I thought . . . normally it's behind the rain and the direction of movement. It was
moving pretty fast as spouts go and looked even better on film. Eventually a rain band developed in front of the spout that greatly slowed its forward speed. The waterspout
was getting inflow from both directions. Eventually, the waterspout was overcome by . . . you guessed it . . . the rain.

I would probably have missed this spout if I had not made the 30 mile drive to pick
up my girlfriend at the airport. She made money for me again! I've got to send her
on more trips. I went back to TGIF and she was waiting for me outside. I gave her
the thumbs up and she was all excited . . . so she said!!

My footage of the waterspout aired on CNN and The Weather Channel. This girl just
keeps making money for me! What's that they say about Lady Luck???

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