Water Spout Off Mawilla Beach Causes ‘Panic As Well As Excitement’


LABUAN: The sight of a waterspout in waters off Labuan Friday caused some panic and trepidation for some, but to others it was viewed with fascination.

The phenomenon formed over the waters several hundred metres from the popular Mawilla beach at about 11.45 am but soon disappeared without causing any damage.

The water spout as seen from Ujana Kewangan in Labuan just before Friday noon. – Photo credit BorneoToday reader

The incident was described as a “fair-weather waterspout” according to the Labuan Meteorological Service Department.

Some of those who witnessed the phenomenon said they were frightened, even if briefly, thinking that it was “a tornado that would crash onto land”.

Nathan, a Labuan resident told BorneoToday it was a fascinating sight though.

“It lasted for some 10 minutes or so, and caused some to panic, but to me and my friends, it was something that made good conversation at lunch time,” he said.

According to the National Geographic Society, water inside a waterspout is formed by condensation in the cloud.

There are two major types of waterspouts: tornadic waterspouts and fair-weather waterspouts.

Tornadic waterspouts get their start as true tornadoes. Influenced by winds associated with severe thunderstorms, air rises and rotates on a vertical axis.

Water spouts or the sea tornadoes are a unique phenomenon witnessed almost in every coastal region of the world.

Looking like a smaller version of a hurricane, water spouts are quite common and rather non-destructive considering the frequency of their occurrences.

They have occurred for centuries now but still continue to intrigue anyone who chances upon them. Here is an overview of some important facts about water spouts.

The popular portal marineinsight described water spouts as unique structures formed over the sea or ocean surface.

Reason for these water spouts at sea is believed to a be vertical wind sheer – a wind force that changes direction as it goes higher. This leads to formation of a vertical funnel which we call a water spout.

It also claimed that the most destructive aspect of a water spout is its ability to carry anything that comes in its way with it.

Sand particles, small floating structures, humans, animals and sometimes even small boats maybe carried along with a water spout.

Donis Gunting, head of the Labuan Meteorological Service Department said they were “inundated with phone calls from frantic citizens”.

READ ABOUT: – 8 Facts about Water Spouts at Sea