'We lost count at 40' -- Dozens of waterspouts spotted off San Juan Islands
BIRCH BAY, Wash. -- Dozens of waterspouts were spotted over a 90 minute period in the waters off Whatcom County and the San Juan Islands Wednesday morning as thunderstorms swirled in the area.
"We lost count at 40 of them, at least," said John Evich, who was out crabbing Wednesday morning.
Evich said he and his crew spotted the first one around 8 a.m. as he left Blaine heading toward Alden Bank near Orcas Island.
"The very first one started in the center of Birch Bay," he said. He called a bunch of his fishing friends to go look for the waterspouts -- essentially tornadoes over water -- but they hadn't left port yet.
"At that point, we kept crabbing, and then saw another one -- then another one build up right next to it," Evich said. He said the two combined into one waterspout and then wiped each other out.
But the show was just starting.
"Then multiple waterspouts kept coming down -- two at a time," he said. "It was pretty crazy!"
He said the most funnels he saw at one point were four - mostly in tandems with one on the water and a second funnel trying to reach the ground next to it. He said there were several other funnels that tried to form in the clouds, but never made it very far.
"Overall there were probably 100 of them that tried to make the ground but didn't," he said.
He said the show went on for at least an hour and a half.
"I've never seen anything like that before, and I fished in Alaska for 21 years and I've fished in Florida for a while," he said. "It's pretty wild."
The waterspouts were visible from the Canadian side of the border as well:
It was enough for the National Weather Service to issue a rare special marine warning for waterspouts in the area:
There were no reported injuries.
The thunderstorm has since dissipated, but other thunderstorms in the North Sound left their mark overnight. Just across the border in Surrey, British Columbia, a huge hailstorm covered roads in the icy pellets:
So much hail accumulated in some areas of Surrey and White Rock that it looked like a winter wonderland as residents were leaving home work, reported CTV Vancouver.
Some of the thunderstorms were visible from farther south in Washington. Greg Johnson's web camera at SkunkBayWeather.com captured a few lightning strikes from his web camera in Hansville.
We're not sure what's "in the water" around here with this time of year, but the National Weather Service reports this is the three year anniversary of a waterspout that hit Anderson Island and triggered the region's first Tornado Warning in decades.
It's also nearly a year to the day of several tornadoes and waterspouts to touch down off the northern Oregon and southern Washington coast, includng a damaging tornado in Manzanita, Oregon.
Special shout-out and thanks to John Reynolds at KISM radio in Bellingham for helping set up the interview with Evich!