Gloomy Skies Spawn Waterspouts Off Coast, Keep Beachgoers Away

Times Staff Writer

Dark-funneled waterspouts formed about half a mile off the coast at Newport Beach on Saturday as dismal, gray skies blanketed inland Orange County.

The seagoing tornadoes, which have been known to destroy boats in their paths, moved eastward, away from bleak, sparsely populated beaches, said Newport Beach lifeguards who spotted the twisters.

Weather forecasters said that the waterspouts normally surface a few times each winter and rarely move onshore.

200-M.P.H. Water Tornadoes


Reports of boats getting caught in the 200-plus m.p.h. water tornadoes are also scarce, said Dave Cooper, a National Weather Service spokesman.

Forecasters predicted a 60% chance of cool thundershowers in Orange County today, with mostly gray, cloudy skies.

Temperatures today and Monday should reach the mid-50s to low 60s, with south and southeast winds blowing 10 to 20 m.p.h., according to the weather bureau.

Low temperatures both days may fall to the low 50s, forecasters said.


By Monday, the chance of rain will decrease to 30%.

The waterspouts Saturday were spotted between 9 and 9:30 a.m. but caused boaters in the area no harm, authorities said.

An 18-foot fiberglass boat washed ashore near Balboa Pier about 2:30 p.m., but marine safety officers said it had drifted into one-foot breakers when its engine failed. The couple on board were not injured.

Few People on Beaches


With easterly winds of 20 m.p.h. and high temperatures of 64 degrees along the Orange County coast, only about 500 people ventured to Newport’s beaches.

“You couldn’t even surf out there. The wind chops are bigger than the surf,” Newport Beach lifeguard Don Stewart said.

The water temperature, 57, was warmer than the air, Stewart said.

High and low temperatures recorded in the 24-hour period ending at mid-afternoon Saturday were 65 and 53 in Santa Ana, and 64 and 55 in Newport Beach.