Awestruck by a waterspout at Penang Bridge

 |Mar 29, 2017
The waterspout seen near Penang Bridge on Tuesday evening on March 28, 2017.

A waterspout was spotted near Penang Bridge  late afternoon yesterday, shocking many Malaysians, particularly Penangites, as this natural phenomenon was rather uncommon.

Waterspouts are basically whirlwinds that move across seas or any body of water, and they can go up to thousands of feet high!

But some motorists travelling along the bridge were however, unperturbed as they took and uploaded photos and videos of the waterspout on social media.

In the video clips that had gone viral, many Penangites were awed whilst some were frightened and cautious to see this natural phenomenon happening before their very eyes.

“This is the first time I’m seeing this although I have heard about it before,” narrated a netizens in his video.

A waterspout works just like a tornado but it’s formed over water.

It is a rotating column of water formed by a whirlwind, which occurs over the sea during bad weather.

The column of water is seen being pulled straight up into the sky as if the water has been sucked by a powerful unseen force and may look alarming.

This tornedo connects at the surface of the sea to an intense funnel-shaped cloud which is often a towering cumulonimbus or a cumuliform cloud.

Tornadic waterspouts are actually tornadoes that move from land to water or vice versa.

Often associated with severe thunderstorms and dangerous lightning, these water spouts are often accompanied by high winds and elevated sea levels.

Many motorists appeared to be surprised or cautious to watch the phenomenon near the bridge.

They slowed and some halted their vehicles to let it pass.

A motorcyclist stopped at the Penang Bridge to watch the waterspout on Tuesday evening on March 28, 2017.

Waterspout on sea has an immense potential of being destructive.

Like a tornado, water spout can carry anything that comes in its way with it.

Sand particles, small floating structures, humans, animals and sometimes even small boats may be carried along with a waterspout. So it’s best to always steer clear from them!

Scientists say it can “fish rain” when swirling whirlwinds from relatively shallow water develops into waterspouts and pick up displaced creatures such as fish, frogs or even snakes for kilometres inland.

Though fish can’t fly, there are incidences of “raining live fish” reported in Sri Lanka, Australia and Honduras.

However, this aspect of the phenomenon has never been witnessed by scientists as it happens.

Waterspouts can occur at any place all over the coastal regions of the world, which explains why waterspouts have been spotted in Penang, Sabah and Sarawak before.

This isn’t the first time a waterspout appeared in Penang.

Throughout the years, several waterspout were spotted, with one of the most recent one reported in November 2016.

Doris Lim is a Malaysia Outlook contributor with a keen eye for details developed form her background in architecture and design. Her affable personality and passion to celebrate life is captured in her stories of the community. Doris’ love for all things beautiful and quirky is tempered by her love for writing, photography, food, art and travel.