Residents witnessed a giant waterspout about 1 km off Long Beach at Batemans Bay, New South Wales, at about 2 p.m. AEDT on Saturday. It lasted for about 15 minutes, moving from the middle of Long Beach around the headland before it broke up.
According to The Telegraph, Erin Townsend, a resident of Long Beach, witnessed the waterspout from the balcony of her home. She reported that the temperature dropped suddenly and the sky turned dark and then the water spout appeared about 1 km out to sea. She said: "We just saw this giant twister with all this water swirling around in it. I've definitely not seen anything like it before."
Michael Syne,Townsend's friend, took photographs of the water spout before it broke up.
Townsend said: "We had been swimming just 10 minutes before that and all of a sudden it got really cold. In that 10 minutes, it became really windy and no one was out on the beach or swimming."
According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Peter Zmijewski at the Bureau of Meteorology, explained that specific conditions were required for waterspouts to form: unstable air, warm water compared to the surrounding air and wind shear. He said that waterspouts do not actually suck up water as it appears but that they only carry condensation.
Zmijewski, said, "They are impossible to forecast. They can be dangerous if in the vicinity, on a surfboard or swimming, but you would have to be very unlucky.''
The Telegraph reports that a meteorologist at the Bureau Mick Logan, said they do not have specific details about the water spout. However, he said that water spouts can reach speeds of up to 160 km/h. According to Logan, "a southerly change coupled with a looming thunderstorm created the spout." He said: "They're more common coming in to winter than at this time of year... and they're still pretty rare, which is what makes this one so impressive."
The Sydney Morning Herald reports the water spout came after a severe storm that swept through parts of northern New South Wales. Local emergency services reported that they received 150 calls mostly from the northern township of Woodburn, south of Ballina, NSW, where at least four homes were severely damaged. The Telegraph, however, reports that one house was destroyed and about a dozen severely damaged at Woodburn.
The Telegraph also reports that strong winds damaged power lines and left 2000 homes without power.