Kozhikode: A miniature tornado ripped through the Vellayil coast near Kerala's Kozhikode, sending shockwaves among the fishermen and local people on Friday morning.
The roofs of several fishing boats and a few houses nearby were flown off in the gusty winds that formed in the Arabian Sea around 10 am and moved towards the coast. Eyewitnesses told Manorama News that the wind lasted for 10 minutes.
Traditional boats and fishing equipment were damaged in the wind. Casualties were averted as the mini tornado struck the boats after the fisher-folk had wound up their work.
Local people said gusty winds had hit the coast Thursday night also.
Cyclone or whirlwind? Neither, says weather official
According to Abhilash S of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at CUSAT, what was sighted off Kozhikode coast was a miniature tornado and not a cyclone or whirlwind as was earlier presumed.
The miniature tornado or non-tornadic waterspout has a five-stage life cycle, Abhilash said.
First, it forms a small disk on the surface of the ocean, a whirring dark spot. In the second stage, the whirring dark spot will enlarge into a spiral pattern.
Then, in its third stage, a ring of spray will form above the spiral pattern. This then, like a rising giant, forms a tall tunnel, the vortex.
Anything caught within, like boats and even sea creatures, would be thrown up in its twisting updraft.
Finally, the formation decays.
Heavy rain in Kerala
Though there was a respite to the torrential rains that have been witnessed in the past three days across northern Kerala, gusty winds and waterlogging continued in many parts of the eastern region.
Kurangan Chola in Malappuram district was hit with flash floods on Friday. Amid heavy rain that has been lashing the area, a surge of floodwater reached the nearby Vellila town disrupting traffic.
In view of the incessant rains, educational institutions in Wayanad district and eastern parts of Malappuram district remained closed on Friday.