Rare tornado, waterspout reported at Lake Tahoe

The Lake Tahoe area experienced wild weather late Wednesday afternoon when a tornado touched down on the lake , creating a waterspout.

Scott McGuire, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Reno, said 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.

About 5 p.m., the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District provided confirmation, including photos, that the funnel cloud had touched down on the lake, creating a waterspout, McGuire said.

“It is definitely unusual,” he said. “It happens, but it is not common, particularly in mid-September.”

On the rare occasions when tornadoes and waterspouts occur in the Lake Tahoe area, it typically is in July or August, McGuire said.

Lake Tahoe and western Nevada also experienced thunderstorms and hail during the afternoon.

“We have an upper level low off the California Coast, and we’re just in that sweet spot for instability,” McGuire said.

The tornado and severe weather warnings have expired, and McGuire said.

Scattered thunderstorms are forecast Wednesday evening in the Tahoe City area, with mostly sunny skies expected Thursday.

Cathy Locke: 916-321-5287, @lockecathy