A WATERSPOUT off the Bognor Regis coastline caused a stir for Gazette readers over the weekend.
The twister was seen around 7pm on Sunday (June 29) from various points along the Littlehampton and Climping coastline.
However, it is believed the weather phenomenon took place around the Aldwick and Pagham areas.
Dan Williams, a spokesman for the Met Office, said: “We get quite a few waterspouts in a year.
“They are defined as a tunnel-shaped cloud which touches down over the sea, whereas a tornado is one which touches down on land.
“There is no regularity in tornadoes but we would reckon to get about 30 sightings a year.
“There is no record of how many waterspouts there are. They may be possibly more but it depends on how many are seen. I imagine a lot probably go unseen.”
Waterspouts are formed in a turbulent area of weather with up and down draughts close to a rain cloud. They are caused by warm temperatures in the lower atmosphere and high humidity.
The updraught becomes horizontal and extends downwards to suck up air to keep itself invigorated. Eventually, the downdraught which inevitably accompanies rain will snuff out the waterspout.
Mr Williams said the waterspouts, although spectacular, are not as strong as those in America. “They are pretty weak efforts and don’t have much impact. But they do look spectacular,” he added.