This is the spectacular moment a rare quadruple waterspout formed off the coast of southern Thailand.
Beachgoers watched in amazement as the long elephant truck-shaped channels of water stretched from the clouds to the sea below in Trat province, southern Thailand, on April 16.
The four funnels were seen for a few minutes over the island of Koh Mak before they gradually dissipated and were replaced by rain and a thunderstorm.
Onlooker Pakorn Sae Tiew said: ‘Clouds covered the sun and everywhere became darker. The tornados started very quickly with a spinning cloud of water spray next to the sea. Then they grew bigger.’
Four waterspout tornados were seen in total, with a small one to the left and three clearly defined funnel shapes to the right. Further below the cloud was a wall of mist and rain from the storm clouds above.
Single waterspouts are seen fairly regularly but four appearing at the same time is particularly rare.
Weather Forecast Bureau spokesman Surapong Sarapa said waterspouts happen most often during the rainy season but it was rare to see four of them at the same time.
Those seen in the video are known as a ‘fair weather waterspout’. They are most commonly found in subtropical areas and usually disappear shortly after they come into contact with land.
Fair weather waterspouts form when winds merge from opposite directions near the water’s surface, creating a small area of spin. Sudden warm air at the surface causes the spinning air to rotate faster and it starts to rise – picking up water at the same time. Sometimes the air spins so fast that it stretches and a funnel appears from the water to the thunderstorm cloud above.
Waterspouts are generally not dangerous but they can be a risk for aircraft flying through the area and for coral reefs and marine life in the water immediately below. Sailors should also try to avoid waterspouts – as the consequences of floating into one could be disastrous.