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You Can Mark ‘Fire Tornado’ Off Your 2020 Apocalypse Bingo Card
The National Weather Service issued its first-ever tornado warning for a twister spawned by fire early Saturday afternoon after a wildfire in Northern California produced a towering, flaming vortex. While not unheard of, fire tornadoes are some of the rarest weather phenomena on Earth, and meteorologists are saying this is the first time one’s received an official tornado warning.
The NWS Reno office issued a warning for residents in Lassen County, California shortly after 6 p.m. ET on Saturday after a pyrocumulonimbus cloud “capable of producing a fire induced tornado” emerged from a wildfire in nearby Loyalton. Officials also cautioned people to stay clear of the eastern Sierra Valley and issued evacuation orders to several of the surrounding communities.
Onlookers shared footage of the blazing vortex online, and it is nothing short of terrifying. The images looks like something more at home in a blockbuster disaster flick than a newsreel. In the image of the reported scene on the ground shared below, the towering cloud kicked up by the Loyalton Fire dyes the sunlight orange while obscuring the mountains. The outlines of the firenado rising over the landscape are clear, though, amid the chaos. Other images shared on Twitter appear to confirm the tornado on the ground, swirling and sucking smoke up into the sky.
Not really. Pyrocumulus is pyrocumulus. Big updraft + converging winds = twister. Just like a dust devil. Physics.
I think what you saw was a fire dust-devil. Big difference.
A pyrocumulus cloud forms from rising air that results from intense heating of the surface by phenomena such as wildfires or volcanic eruptions. The fires that generate these clouds can be man-made or natural. A big fire produces strong upward moving air currents that carry water vapor and ash upward.
Could the ones you saw knock trees over and start new fires?