Monday, October 4, 2010

Steam Devils over Deep Lake

I ventured up north for an early fall weekend get-away to my family's lake house in Wisconsin this past weekend. With the first freeze of the season forecast as temperatures plunged to at or just below 30F and the lake temperature still in the lower 60s I figured photogenic morning steam would be a sure thing. I ended up with that and more, as steam devils, or little vortices in the steam started sprouting up around sunrise. Essentially these guys form under the same conditions that drive dust devils, as well as water spouts and land spout tornadoes, on a much much smaller scale of course.

Little areas of vorticity would be present as the very light winds roll the steam across the lake surface, while little updrafts due to the instability in the lowest of levels stretches the vorticity into at times tight little circulations in the steam. Pretty mesmerizing stuff to watch as they really do resemble little water spouts. I ended up almost core punching one on the row boat just after sunrise and noticed they even created little "swirl" regions at the surface of the water and base of the vortex, exactly as water spouts do. Unfortunately this was too difficult to actually document visually.

I managed a few decent photos, and composed a short video with some clips of some of the more interesting circulations. Unfortunately I hadn't planned on documenting anything interesting video-wise over the weekend so I left the HD camera at home and just had the little back up SD video camera. Better than nothing, I suppose.

For the video, I recommend actually clicking the link and opening in a new, larger window to be able to see some of the more subtle circulations.

There are actually quite a few circulations all in a line in that top photo.

For now I'll leave it at the steam devil stuff, but I've got plenty more to update on from the weekend that I'll save for a time that I'm more alert and coherent. I tried again for steam devils this morning at sunrise after arriving home late last night from Wisconsin and am now pretty crispy. Plenty more photos and other ramblings to come, however.


Dann Cianca said...

You should'a yelled "TORNADO!" and paddled out there in a kayak with a skywarn decal on it. Lol.

Andrew Pritchard said...

I didn't yell tornado, but I was paddling toward them pretty quickly before I got out the video camera! Those still images were all taken from a row boat.

p said...

but did you get the probes deployed?