JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A tourist visiting the Florida Panhandle was treated to a spectacular sight on Memorial Day when a mini-vortex cropped up on the pool deck of his Panama City Beach resort.
Justin Ray Parker posted video of the phenomenon to Facebook, showing the vortex dancing across the surface of the pool at the Shores of Panama as onlookers watch.
Parker told News4Jax he filmed the clip about 4:30 p.m. Monday, right around the same time forecasters say Subtropical Storm Alberto came ashore in nearby Laguna Beach.
"It actually happens often at the condo," he said, noting the resort's U-shape. "Just never as big and strong as that. The winds off Alberto made it a pretty sight to see."
Parker, who was in town visiting from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, said he has witnessed his share of waterspouts, but nothing quite like what he caught on camera.
News4Jax meteorologist Mark Collins said vortexes can form when the ground heats up, creating a counter-clockwise spin. He said this one likely was influenced by Alberto and the building's shape.
"If there was a current in a stream and it passed a rock, sometimes that rock induces a swirl," he said. "This is the same concept. The stronger the winds, the more robust the vortex."
Even though Monday's vortex occurred as a named storm made landfall, Collins said it's just as likely to happen on any other day given the right conditions.
"You can see it happen with a pile of leaves on light wind days, so long as the ground is hot enough," Collins said.