Goleta’s pretty far west to be considered part of Tornado Alley, but residents might start thinking otherwise after a waterspout was spotted Saturday morning.In January, a possible tornado or waterspout damaged the roof of a house and uprooted a large tree near Girsh Park.

Saturday’s funnel cloud emerged from unsettled skies east of Goleta Beach about 9 a.m. There were no reports of damage or injuries, and witnesses said the weather phenomenon vanished almost as quickly as it appeared without apparently touching down.

Don Gilman, who spotted the funnel cloud while at Twin Lakes Golf Course, 6034 Hollister Ave., told Noozhawk that it appeared to be over the ocean when it emerged.

“It was moving quickly toward land in a west-northwest direction,” he said.

Gilman’s wife, Deana, was at Goleta Beach at the time. She said the funnel was east of the pier, moved west and then north, and crossed over land right around Santa Barbara Airport. She described the formation as “retreating” back into the cloud as it approached the shoreline.

Although similar in atmospheric structure to tornadoes, waterspouts generally are small, slender columns of rapidly swirling air that have some contact with a water surface. They usually spin out of a swiftly growing cumulus cloud and often occur in a ragged series of funnels. The vortex becomes visible when colder air condenses water vapor into water droplets.

A strong Pacific storm is spinning offshore and is expected to push a cold front into California later Saturday. The National Weather Service forecasts cloudy skies and light rain throughout the day but conditions are expected to clear up Sunday. Saturday’s high temperatures are expected to reach the upper 50s with Sunday temperatures in the low 60s. Overnight lows will be in the 40s.

Noozhawk publisher Bill Macfadyen can be reached at wmacfadyen@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk.

Bill Macfadyen

William M. Macfadyen, Noozhawk Publisher

Bill Macfadyen is Noozhawk’s founder and publisher. Contact him at wmacfadyen@noozhawk.com, and follow him on Instagram: @bill.macfadyen. The opinions expressed are his own.