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January 23, 2019

Fisherman reports occurrence of rare waterspout in Pakistani waters

Karachi

January 23, 2019

A local fisherman has claimed the occurrence of a waterspout in the Pakistani waters, second time since 2016, some 57 nautical miles from the coastline at Ghora Bari.

According to the WWF-Pakistan, the fisherman, trained by them, reported the occurrence of a waterspout on Tuesday while operating in the offshore waters of Pakistan.

This rare weather phenomenon was reported by Captain Saeed Zaman, who was fishing for tuna about 57 nautical miles from Sindh’s coastline. He recorded this spectacular waterspout which looked similar to a tornado.

This rare weather phenomenon was previously reported by fishermen on 28 February 2016 near Sakoni (off Kalmat Khor), Balochistan.

Captain Saeed Zaman said this massive waterspout was coming towards his boat but he managed to move away from it and maintained that he observed a large patch of cloud on the morning of 22 January from which the waterspout could be seen descending. Other fishing boats operating in the area also observed this massive waterspout but they also avoided approaching it.

Contrary to its name, a waterspout is not filled with water but is a column of cloud-filled wind rotating over the ocean’s surface. It descends from a cumulus cloud and the water inside a waterspout is formed by condensation in the cloud. There are two types of waterspouts, i.e. tornadic and fair-weather.

The clouds from which waterspouts descend are not fast-moving, so fair-weather waterspouts are often static. Both waterspouts require high levels of humidity and a relatively warm water temperature compared to the overlying air.

Waterspouts are most common in tropical and subtropical waters but this is the second authentic record of its occurrence from Pakistan coast.

Muhammad Moazzam Khan, technical advisor (Marine Fisheries), WWF-Pakistan, said waterspouts were usually formed along the cumulus type of clouds. This type of waterspout was generally not associated with thunderstorms which usually dissipated in a short time.

“Waterspouts have long been recognised as serious marine hazards. Stronger waterspouts pose threat to small boats. It is recommended that fishers keep a considerable distance from such phenomena. The average spout is around 50 metres in diameter, with wind speeds of 80 kilometres per hour. Most waterspouts last for up to one hour, though the average lifetime is just 5 to 10 minutes,” he added.

The formation of a waterspout takes place over five stages; the first stage is the formation of a disk on the surface of water, known as a dark spot; the second stage is a spiral pattern on the water surface; the third stage is a formation of a spray ring; the fourth stage is where the waterspout becomes a visible funnel; and the lifecycle ends and fifth stage where the waterspout decays.

The WWF-Pakistan appreciated the alertness and vision of fishermen who have been trained to record such rare events, including release of endangered marine animals.

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