Strange things happening in waters off Birch Bay
Waterspouts popped up in waters outside Blaine, Semiahmoo, and the San Juan Islands Wednesday morning, prompting the National Weather Service office in Seattle to issue a marine warning.
The waterspouts formed due to an unstable air mass in the area caused by a few thunderstorms that formed Wednesday morning. Spouts were visible shortly after 9 a.m., said Mike McFarland, a meteorologist with the Weather Service.
McFarland said the waterspouts aren’t particularly dangerous, but advised boaters to steer clear of them, as the spouts could potentially flip watercraft.
“They’re not too threatening. … They’re really more of a curiosity than anything, but if you’re out in a boat you probably want to avoid them,” McFarland said.
McFarland said about two or three spouts reached the water to form funnel shapes, adding they are common during this time of year.
John Evich, a commercial crabber from Deming, was leaving around 7 a.m. from Blaine harbor in the direction of Lummi Island when he noticed the first spout near Birch Bay. A few minutes later, Evich and his crewmate saw several more.
“We started running toward it because it was too cool not to get some good footage of it,” Evich said. “The sky was just full of them. There were probably 40 total. Not all of them were huge, but probably 40 of them tried to touch the (water).”
Evich said he would see a few at a time that would form or try to, adding he has seen similar ones – but not that many at one time.
“Seeing something I’ve never witnessed before, it was pretty wicked,” Evich said. “I’ve never seen such a quantity of those and I’ve fished from the Russian border to the Mexican border, so I’ve covered some ground and seen some weather.”
McFarland said numerous spouts were also spotted near Long Beach in southwest Washington.
Temperatures are expected to stay cool through the rest of the week, with showers increasing Thursday with chances of thunderstorms. The coldest temperatures – in the low 40s – are expected Thursday night and Friday morning, McFarland said. Because the air will also be unstable then, more waterspouts could develop on Thursday or Friday.
The weekend is expected to be moderate, with temperatures warming up on Monday. The beginning of next week will also likely be more dry, McFarland said.