Valley News -

By Diane Sieker

Weather anomaly appears in Anza, landspout surprises community


Last updated 8/22/2018 at 3:28pm

Jacki Maulding

A landspout appears in Anza Aug. 16.

The sudden appearance of a sinister funnel cloud alarmed many Anza and Aguanga residents Thursday, Aug. 16.

Cameras and phones recorded pictures and video of the unusual weather phenomena and social media exploded with surprised posts. Drivers stopped along the local roads to stare at the twister as it gyrated for several minutes.

After fires, earthquakes, power outages and thunderstorms with hail and harsh downpours that included local flooding, people wondered what was next.

"Still waiting for the fourth horseman," joked Mario Lopez, whose video of the weather anomaly was used by a news program.

Conversations centered on the identity of the formation. Was it a tornado, a waterspout or a dust devil?

The Glossary of Meteorology defines a landspout as "describing tornadoes occurring with a parent cloud in its growth stage and with its vorticity originating in the boundary layer. The parent cloud does not contain a preexisting mid-level mesocyclone. The landspout was so named because it looks like 'a weak Florida Keys waterspout over land.'"

Todd Morse

A downpour accompanied the landspout that appeared in Anza Thursday, Aug. 16.

Meteorologist Kevin Martin explained, "Convergence from winds out of the desert with winds from the Inland Empire meet in the Anza area almost every day there is an onshore flow. These winds meet at a convergence point and rotate around each other, creating the spin needed for rotation. During sunny days the same area that saw the landspout would see strong dust devils at times as well. In this case, the thunderstorm above it just had the hot air rising with the convergence to form that landspout. Without it, a dust devil would still be forming. The difference between a landspout and a tornado is that a tornado forms due to the strong jet stream winds stretching and narrowing the funnel column, making it spin faster and faster like an ice skater pulling their arms in. A landspout forms only at the surface and extends up due to hot air rising, not an actual thunderstorm jet stream."

Martin added that other common areas for these is the Elsinore, El Mirage, Warner Springs, Morongo Basin and Antelope Valley Convergence Zones. Anywhere a strong dust devil is seen during a hot day is where these landspouts can form during a thunderstorm.

While interesting, the event is quite rare under these circumstances. Those that witnessed it in person will carry the image of the Anza-nado with them for a long time to come.


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