CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/ROB FOWLER
Unstable autumn atmospheric conditions set the stage this week for waterspouts off the Washington coast. In Surfside, near the north end of the Long Beach Peninsula, this one was spotted by Rob Fowler. Others were photographed offshore Whatcom County in northwest Washington. Like tornadoes, waterspouts are a product of rotating air inside cumulus storm clouds. They seldom do damage and typically fall apart if they reach land. There is no indication the one near Surfside reached shore or caused any harm. Similar conditions a year ago spawned a destructive tornado in Manzanita, along with tornado warnings in Clatsop and Pacific counties.