Tornado threat prompts waterspouts

No reports of damage in fast-moving storm.


Severe weather Monday morning touched off waterspouts on Vineyard Sound and had the Island and parts of Cape Cod under a tornado warning for about 45 minutes between 9:30 and 10:15 am.

Dark clouds could be seen over the Island, surrounded by blue skies.

Though there was no official report of a touchdown by a tornado, George Katilus of Lighthouse Road in Aquinnah wrote in an email that the severe weather caused debris to swirl around his house.

“After living in [Florida] and being in numerous bad storms, this was by far the most extreme weather event I’ve ever been in,” he wrote. “No damage to house or property, but a crazy experience nonetheless.”

Katilus also reported feeling a popping in his ears, which happens with a drop in pressure.

At the Vineyard Montessori School, parents were alerted by staff that students had been moved to the school’s basement as a precaution.

According to Times employee Jim Osborn, who was on the Island Home ferry, waterspouts could be seen from the ferry. Island Home Captain Steve Estrela snapped photographs that were posted on SSA social media.

Pat Nagi, who lives off Lambert’s Cove, captured video of a waterspout. “I was shaking,” she said. “It was going right down Vineyard Sound. My son and I were outside, and it just kept getting bigger and bigger.”

Peter Norris was aboard the Martha’s Vineyard ferry from Woods Hole to Vineyard Haven when he also captured a waterspout on video. “It was exciting,” Norris said.

He said he saw the Island Home apparently headed back toward Woods Hole.

Sean Driscoll, a spokesman for the Steamship Authority, said the decision was left in the hands of ferry captains.

Norris said the ferry ride was uneventful, except for the show going on in the Sound.

Donnie Benefit was operating the Edgartown dredge, which is clearing Tashmoo Channel, when he spotted a waterspout. He said there were three separate waterspouts, including one that was within an eighth of a mile of Tashmoo.

“It was pretty cool,” said Benefit, who continued with his dredging work. “It wasn’t a big one, and I have a contract to meet.”

The National Weather Service (NWS) has concluded that a waterspout that began in Vineyard sound “came ashore in Woods Hole” and quickly dissipated. “Eyewitness reports at the Woods Hole Golf Club indicated four large wooden chairs were thrown 500 yards away onto a tennis court,” the statement from the NWS states. “At the same time, two nearby weather stations reported wind gusts of 56 mph and 65 mph.”