Wacky weather over the last few weeks has left many in Goleta and Santa Barbara wondering if funnel clouds and water spouts are the newest weather marvel of the area. A funnel cloud appeared in Goleta on Saturday, March 6 at around 9 a.m., which — after hitting water — became a water spout and attracted the attention of surprised residents.
One Goleta resident mentioned watching others flock toward the scene to check out the swirling clouds, and a few snapshots of the spouts are seen here. Goleta locals may remember the tornado-like winds produced by a funnel cloud that was reported on in January.
The National Weather Service Forecast website defines a funnel cloud as, “a rotating column of air that is not in contact with the ground.” The website goes on to explain that when a funnel cloud touches ground it can be considered a tornado; however, when the funnel cloud touches down over water it becomes a water spout. A representative of the National Weather Service addressed the danger of water spouts for boaters and mentioned that continued monitoring is available through the National Weather Service.
If you’re wondering whether water spouts and funnel clouds have occurred in the Goleta area in the past, you can find the information by contacting the North Carolina office of the National Weather Service. Year-to-year information on weather phenomena is available upon request at their East Coast office.