Wildfires can produce fire tornadoes
June 24, 2015
Did you know that wildfires can produce "fire tornadoes?" They are a type of whirlwind that derive their energy from the release of heat during the combustion process. NOAA defines them as a "vigorous atmospheric circulation, created when highly unstable, superheated, dry air near the ground breaks through the boundary layer and shoots upward in a swirling motion."
The phenomenon is rare, and ranges in scale from small fire devils that are a natural part of fire turbulence to huge and extremely violent fire storms. Fire tornadoes can be from 100 to 1,000 feet in diameter and have rotational speeds of up to 90 mph. Their direction and velocities are almost impossible to anticipate and they can cause major problems for firefighters.