Water spouts spotted off Dutch islands

Water Spout
A still image from a video of a water spout off the Ameland coast in June 2014 (Leo Kiewied/YouTube). (A still image from a video of a water spout off the Ameland coast in June 2014 (Leo Kiewied/YouTube))

Visitors to beaches in Ameland and Schiermonnikoog were advised to get somewhere safe at 9:30 a.m. Thursday morning after multiple waterspouts were spotted over the Wadden Sea. Several hundred meters high, onlookers tweeted spectacular photos of the spouts whirling into the sky.

The Royal Dutch Rescue Organisation (KNRM), working with the police department, lifted the caution at about noon, but warned beach-goers to remain safe an stay alert. “Fortunately it's still not a holiday and it is not 30 degrees, so there were not many people on the beaches," a spokesman for KNRM said.

A police department spokesperson also stressed that people were not forced from the beaches, but given a warning. There were no injuries reported, and everything was back to normal by mid-day, they said.

Ameland has been hit several times over the past decades by waterspouts and tornados. In 1972, severn people were killed and ninety injured at a campsite when a tornado passed over. In 1992, one person was reported killed at another campsite on the island. While the entire life-cycle of these waterspouts usually takes place over water, when one comes onshore it has the potential to turn into a tornado or waterspout.

KNMI had issued a code yellow for severe weather, and a general warning to sailors.