Despite reports of a tornado headed toward East Hampton, meteorologists say the technical word for the phenomenon is a "water spout."
First responders in the Riverhead and North Fork area said they heard reports of a "tornado in the Mattituck or Laurel" area around 2 p.m. on Friday.
Bill Goodman, meteorologist for the National Weather Service office in Upton, said a storm "cell" passed through the Jamesport and Laurel area, and, while over the water of the Peconic Bay, created a "water spout."
A water spout, Goodman said, is a tornado over water; the term tornado is used when such a formation is formed over land.
The storm, Goodman said, possibly weakened as it headed toward the South Fork, near North Sea.
But police did report "a funnel cloud over Robin's Island, headed east at a high rate of speed."
The storm, Goodman said, could head out over the water again in East Hampton and create another water spout as it travels over the ocean.
Water spouts form when an interaction occurs between a shower or thunderstorm and a sea breeze.