A whirling column of air and water mist known as a waterspout came ashore and uprooted an inflatable bounce house with three children inside it on a South Florida beach yesterday. The children were injured but alert and conscious when they were taken to a hospital, Fort Lauderdale Police spokesman Keven Dupree said. Though the house flew above the tree line, the children fell out when it first flipped over the beach. "They were immediately dropped out of the bounce house onto the sand," Dupree says. A police statement later yesterday evening said two of the children were treated for minor fractures and released, while a third was in stable condition and would be held overnight for observation at Broward Health Medical Center.
Unlike tornadoes, waterspouts don't need thunderstorms for their funnel clouds to form. Yesterday afternoon, a band of clouds moving in from the ocean had winds favorable for waterspout formation, says a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Miami: "It developed very close to the coastline and moved onshore, and it dissipated very quickly onshore, like any other waterspout." CNN notes that bounce house injuries are all too common. It cites a 2012 study that found an average of 31 kids ended up in the ER daily due to injuries tied to bounce houses in 2010. "That's about one child every 45 minutes," noted the study's author.