Mary Kilpatrick / Houma Courier
GRAND ISLE -- Robert Vegas, 22, stopped wakeboarding while attached to a cable system
Wednesday and stared out at the bay as a massive water spout twisted off Grand Isle.
“Then I decided I might as well get a cool picture out of it,” he said.
Vegas hopped back on his board and captured intense footage of the swirling storm that knocked out a power line and damaged a camp's roof about 4 p.m. He said he was about three football fields away from the spout.
“It was pretty intense,” he said. “I almost fell, but then I thought, ‘Let me get one more (shot).' ”
Though Vegas, who is a native of Grand Isle, said he wasn't scared, but he did get off his board when the twister veered in his direction. The spout came close to his Wake Side Cable Park business.
“I stopped because it was getting pretty close,” he said.
Yards away, 17-year-old Katelyn Reding stood with her iPhone and took a photo of Vegas. From her perspective, it looked like Vegas was feet away from the monster spout. The water spout lasted about 20 minutes, she said. It spun largely in the water before jumping ashore and causing damage.
“It started out as three, very light, and then three of them came together,” she said. “You could see water flying, fish flying. ... It was like in the movies. The water was being thrown. The rocks were being thrown.”
Water spouts are a frequent weather phenomenon in the area, National Weather Service meteorologist Phil Grigsby said.
“They're more common in the late spring and peak in mid-to-late June,” he said. “They continue into July and August.”
Water spouts form as clouds develop and air begins to rise and stretch, he said. They generally tend to form before thunderstorms. This was an outlier, he said, because it happened during a storm. Most water spouts form in the mornings and last only five to 10 minutes. They vary slightly from their tornado cousins in the way they form, Grigsby said.
“We call them water spouts because they're over water. ... this actually showed more (tornado-like) characteristics because it went on land."