posted on Sep, 17 2012 @ 10:45 PM
reply to post by Noinoi
This happens all the time during wildfires or prescribed burns.
It's called a rotating convection column.
As a fire burns fuel, the hot air rises and cooler air is sucked into the heat zone at ground level, the cycle just goes on like that.
As more and more moisture is evaporated from the burning fuel, it rises to create cumulus clouds and as it grows it creates it's own weather patterns
that drive it (sometimes against existing weather patterns).
When this happens the colflicting patterns can create what is known as a Rotating Smoke Column, which moves slowly at first but as it draws up more
heated air, which is replaced by cooler air at the bottom, it gains speed.
Rotating columns can be tiny like the ones seen here or they can be massive (upto 1km or bigger across at the base).
All sorts of crazy stuff goes on inside a rotating column. Firefighters can be pelted with tree trunks and small boulders, it's can rain (eventhough
it might be 40 degrees and cloudless outside the fire zone), there can be lightning strikes, wind can reach incredible speeds and the column can start
to move on it's own power (as I said earlier, even against existing weather patterns).
They are one of the most awsome phenomenon I have ever witnessed. and one of the most dangerous too for firefighters that have to work in or near
edit on 9/17/2012 by Ironclad because: (no reason given)