Environment

Eerie photos show 'steam devils' rising over Lake Ontario

Last week's extreme cold in Ontario provided an opportunity to witness a rare lake phenomenon
  • Feb 21, 2016
  • 293 words
  • 2 minutes
A 'steam devil' - a weakly rotating column of condensed water vapour - over Lake Ontario on February 14, 2016. (Photo: Scott Teichman/CanGeo Photo Club)
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Hearts may have been warm on Valentine’s Day 2016, but the air over eastern Canada was very, very cold. So cold, in fact, that ice cover on Lake Ontario went from less than five per cent the previous week to more than 30 per cent in a matter of days.

For those brave enough to be outside, the conditions provided an opportunity to witness a rare cold-weather phenomenon over the lake: steam devils.

When extremely cold air moves over significantly warmer water, dense fog banks form, within them whirling vortices of evaporating water. Occasionally, steam will be drawn into these vortices, rendering them visible. The resulting spinning column of water vapour is called a ‘steam devil.’

CanGeo Photo Club member Scott Teichman was out shooting the fog at Marie Curtis Park in Etobicoke on February 14th and captured several remarkable photos of steam devils.

“I knew with the extreme cold something would be happening by the lake, whether it be ice or fog, and I wasn’t disappointed,” Teichman said.

“It was amazing watching these twisters walk along the water and then just fade away.”

Teichman shot his images with a Canon 5D MK3 and a 70-200 mm f/2.8 telephoto lens.

“I wanted to use a shorter lens to add some perspective to the composition but they were forming too far out over the water, so I decided to try and get as close as possible,” he explained.

It should be noted that although steam devils are similar in appearance to their convective cousins, waterspouts (the over-water equivalent of a tornado), they are generally very weak and short-lived.

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(Photo: Scott Teichman/CanGeo Photo Club)
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(Photo: Scott Teichman/CanGeo Photo Club)
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(Photo: Scott Teichman/CanGeo Photo Club)
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