A tornado formed over Lake Tahoe late Wednesday afternoon, creating a large waterspout that prompted a National Weather Service warning.
Video and photos confirmed the contact with the lake surface, according to the Weather Service.
Tornadic waterspouts are tornadoes that form over water, or move from land to water. They have the same characteristics as a land tornado.
Tornadoes are fairly rare in the Lake Tahoe area, which is about 300 miles northeast of Fresno along the California and Nevada state borders.
Among previous sightings were ones in 2012 and 2008.
“It is definitely unusual,” Scott McGuire, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Reno, Nev., told The Sacramento Bee. “It happens, but it is not common, particularly in mid-September.”
McGuire, an off-duty Weather Service employee, reported a funnel cloud on the eastern shore of Lake Tahoe about 4 p.m. The Weather Service issued a tornado warning at 4:12 p.m.
The severe weather warnings have since expired.
“We have an upper level low off the California Coast, and we’re just in that sweet spot for instability,” McGuire said.
More photos and videos of the tornado were shared via social media by people in the Lake Tahoe area.