Tornado-like waterspouts wreak havoc along Penang coastline, meteorologists say expect more

via MalaysiaOne News Instagram
via MalaysiaOne News Instagram

Batten down the hatches, Penangites, meteorologists are saying that more waterspouts like this morning’s twister can be expected on the island in the future, and they’re laying the blame on climate change.

Penang’s Meteorological Services Department issued a statement following today’s incident that caused damage to apartments and homes in the Tanjong Tokong part of the island, saying that a rise in global temperatures will increase the frequency of the twisters.

Several individuals were able capture the event on mobile phones, showing the beachfront baby tornadoes coming out from the sea and making landfall along the coast.

Media is reporting that six units had their roofs destroyed, unsettling residents who described the scene “like a tornado.” Several zinc sheets from a nearby construction site were blown into the air.

via MalaysiaOne News Instagram
via MalaysiaOne News Instagram
via MalaysiaOne News Instagram
via MalaysiaOne News Instagram

Waterspouts are similar to tornadoes, although much weaker. They fall into two categories, those that form in fair weather conditions, and those that are created in severe weather.

While some can form over water, others can move from land to water. Rarely do they penetrate far inland, although coastal damage is often reported.

Most tornadic waterspouts are associated with severe weather conditions, including high seas, large hails, and dangerous lightening. Fair weather waterspouts are usually developed on the dark, flat base of cumulus clouds (hey-o middle school science class!), usually at the surface of the water, and works its way upwards. They exist often in light weather conditions, and have limited movement.

If you see one, find somewhere to go, and stay inside. If you’re in a weak structure, try to make your way into a storm shelter. Avoid any falling debris – you know the drill.

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