Thursday, August 9, 2012
Thunderstorm & Wildfire in 12 Frames
This afternoon in the midst of the most potent heat wave California has experienced thus far this year and perhaps in a few years some monsoonal moisture from Mexico leaked over the border. Numerous electrical storms ensued which caused new wildfire starts over various locales across San Diego, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties. For a time I monitored one of these incidents via an HPWREN north-facing webcam atop Mesa Grande, a mountain in San Diego County. The two smokes you see in the images are two lightning-started wildfires in close proximity to one another that are predicted to burn together if they have not already. The storm that started them rapidly weakened and dissipated but that allowed drier air and sunlight to get to the fire and its fuels and combined with wind and heavy fuels and accessibility issues for firefighters allowed these fires to escape and become established. As of this evening the two fires (christened the Chihuahua Incident) have charred 900 acres which is nearly 1.5 square miles and is predicted to get much larger. At one point this afternoon while one of these two fires was bumping hard against Chihuahua Valley Road a fire whirl developed which spun across the road and established the fire on the opposite side of the road which firefighters had been vainly attempting to use as a control line. Note the pyrocumulus clouds building up out of the drift smoke at times (but not directly over the main convection column). Below are twelve frames edited from the 29-frame sequence of frames I saved and they are shown in chronological order.
Courtesy of the U.C. San Diego High Performance Wireless Research & Education Network.