Saturday, August 24, 2013
Fire Tornados ≠ Fire Whirls!
Despite my own rather expansive knowledge of weather and wildfires accumulated over my entire lifetime as driven by a keen interest in both since I was six years old learned something knew recently that corrected a patently false concept I held. That misconception was that fire tornadoes were merely macro-scale fire whirls which is patently false as it turns out. Fire whirls are generated by rapidly rising hot air within a fire sans any thunderstorms in the vicinity or last are unrelated to any such that is occurring nearby. Fire tornadoes are generated by thunderstorms produced by the fire itself as pyrocumulus clouds atop the convection column rising from the fire develop further into pyrocumulonimbus clouds. Below are featured two examples of raw footage of fire tornadoes. The top clip features a fire tornado in Alaska last week as viewed from an air attack plane of the Alaska Department of Forestry and recorded by air tactical officer Tim Whitesell over the Tetlin Junction Ridge Fire which has burned over 76,000 acres and is still burning. The bottom clip features a fire tornado from the 2003 Canberra bushfires as recorded by Tom Bates, a Kambah resident (suburb of Canberra). That fire tornado generated F-3 winds (160 mph) and at times was 1,600 feet in diamater. The bottom-most player screen features a short documentary on both fire whirls and fire tornadoes. Despite being somewhat old it is still more than worth watching and features addition amazing video of earlier events than the two aforementioned.