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Carnival Waterspouts on Friday

April 22,2005 — The unsettled weather created a dramatic show for thousands of spectators around St. Thomas' Southside on Friday afternoon. Starting after 5 p.m. and lasting until about 5:45 p.m. four separate waterspouts danced around the Charlotte Amalie harbor. The various moving funnel clouds, some with hazes of water swirling around the point of contact with the water, stopped visitors and locals at every overlook above town. The dark clouds to the east with the ominous funnels dropping out of their bottoms were highlighted by bright sun shining out of the west.
The conditions in the area were almost exactly as described by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for waterspout formation. NOAA information says waterspouts become favorable when water temperatures are warm, the air is cool and moist, and wind speeds are relatively light. NOAA's Web site says that when these conditions exist, formation of multiple waterspouts is not unusual.
One witness said four funnels were visible at once at the height of the show, one of which petered out as it appeared to pass over the Marriott Frenchman's Reef hotel. The last waterspout moved around the tip of Frenchman's Reef, and slowly moved towards the stern of the western most cruise ship at the West Indian Company Ltd. dock. At several points on that journey, the connection to the water was invisible until another surge of white would start from the harbor water and travel up the trail of swirling wind.
The white finger of cloud withdrew into the mass above just as it was about to reach the moored ship. The people and cars around the harbor dissipated as well and the middle of the three large cruise ships at the dock began to back into the harbor.

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