When a tornado forms or passes over a water surface, it is termed a waterspout. Like tornadoes, they may assume many shapes and often occur in series or families. Measurements of their forward speeds are scarce, but estimates vary from a few kilometers an hour to as high as 64 to 80 kilometers per hour. Contrary to popular opinion, a waterspout does not "suck up" water to great heights; though it may lift the water level a few meters. The main visible cloud consists mostly of freshwater clouds produced by condensation of water vapor; however, a sheath of spray often rotates around the lower portion of the vortex tube. Thousands of vacationers and several scientists witnessed one of the largest and most famous waterspouts, observed near Massachusetts on Aug. 19, 1896. Its height was estimated to be 1,095 meters and its width 256 meters at the crest, 43 meters at center, and 73 meters at the base. The spray surrounding the vortex tube near the water surface was a...