Folks in Cleveland saw quite the sight just before a special pregame show before the Browns game. They saw a waterspout out on Lake Erie as seen below from this image from the International Centre for Waterspout Research in Canada (ICWR).
The ICWR says this has been a record year for waterspouts while their land counterparts, tornadoes, have actually had a quieter year. We all remember how busy and active 2011 was for tornadoes. Waterspouts are just tornadoes on water.
2012 has seen 154 waterspouts, which smashes the old record of 94 back in 2003. Record for waterspouts on the Great Lakes goes back to 1994. A new single day record was also achieved this year with 30 waterspouts being reported on September 9th on the Great Lakes.
One of the two major factors for all the waterspouts this year was due to a very hot summer and warm spring, which made for warmer water temperatures. Warmer waters help create waterspouts. In combination with the cold air flowing over the warm waters, that helped to make for a fairly large outbreak of waterspouts this past weekend. Another factor is social media. Nowadays more people are using that to take pictures and report them. The ICWR says in the past they had only the Coast Guard, pilots, and ships to report waterspouts.
A forecaster with the ICWR says he expects the number of waterspouts to go up as our climate gets warmer and social media continues to grow.