Photo: Whirling column of air and mist caught in the act

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Our photo of the day comes from St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, Florida.

Wow, what a thing to see! Photographer Christine spotted this water spout in Florida, noting that it was in the bay off St Marks lighthouse.

But what exactly is a water spout, aside from the NOAA's poetic description that it is a "whirling column of air and water mist"? (There has to be a haiku in there somewhere.)

The agency goes on to explain that tornadic waterspouts (as opposed to fair weather water spouts) are "tornadoes that form over water, or move from land to water. They have the same characteristics as a land tornado. They are associated with severe thunderstorms, and are often accompanied by high winds and seas, large hail, and frequent dangerous lightning."

According to NOAA's National Weather Service, the best way to avoid a waterspout is to move at a 90-degree angle to its apparent movement. Unless you're a photographer, then stand your ground or move closer! Just kidding, don't do that. The weather service reminds us that they are dangerous and advises that you never move closer to investigate. Thankfully we have this cool photo to look at instead.

Would you like to see your nature photo featured as the TreeHugger photo of the day? Join TreeHugger’s Reader Photo Pool on Flickr and add your pictures to the group.

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