The state of California in the US is witnessing severe wildfires this year, but residents have to suffer an additional unique phenomenon called a ‘fire tornado’ due to an extreme heatwave. Residents have been sharing images and videos of the natural phenomenon on social media even as the first-ever warning of ‘firenadoes’ was issued.
“For the first time in history, a tornado warning has been issued for a likely fire tornado,” Washington Post meteorologist Matthew Cappucci said. “These are not ‘firewhirls.’ This is a rotating smoke plume being ingested into a pyrocumulonimbus cloud that could produce a bonafide fire-induced tornado. Tornadic wind speeds.”’
A warning released by a local weather station said that clouds from a wildfire was “capable of producing a fire included tornado and outflow of winds in excess of 60 mph.”
According to NASA, pyrocumulonimbus is a weather condition characterised by merging smoke, fire and thunderstorm conditions. It results in the formation of a pyrocumulus cloud, which typically form in association with wildfires or volcanic eruptions due to the intense heating of the air, which cools and condenses as it ascends.
Firefighters are battling more than a dozen wildfires across California in a scorching heatwave, and the sudden thunderstorms have only made the situation worse.
Watch the videos here:
A fire tornado in California because it wouldn’t be 2020 without one pic.twitter.com/5HbJVsugVm
— Natasha Del Riego (@ndelriego) August 16, 2020
Fire Tornado today outside Chilcoot and Hallelujah Junction California. This was intense and scary!!!! @TheTXWXchaser @spahn711 @JimCantore @ReedTimmerAccu @jeffpiotrowski #CAwx #LoyaltonFire #firenado #FireSeason2020 pic.twitter.com/vfwrTKK02n
— Tasha Joy (@That1GirlTasha) August 16, 2020
— shon gables cbs46 (@shongables) August 16, 2020
image of the fire tornado in Lassen Co., CA today. divine. gorgeous. unbelievable. pic.twitter.com/jr9zj89tTh
— Morgan Fuld (@mjfuld54) August 16, 2020
People on social media wondered if there is anything worse left to be witnessed in 2020.
“2020 can’t get any worse”
August: fire tornado pic.twitter.com/YCKEY6BYxX
— Joseph Blanco (@JosephBlanco1) August 16, 2020
Who had #FireTornado on their list of things left that could happen in 2020?!? Well, CA officially had the first Fire Tornado in history today! Like the things that are happening is crazy crazy! #2020 #HeatWave pic.twitter.com/aYCSSe1IZb
— Brad Everett Young (@BradEYoung) August 16, 2020
Not a SyFy channel movie starring Ian Ziering.
Firenado. 2020 is really trying everything. https://t.co/75mVSHnSS1
— Portia Ambitious Woman McGonagal (@PortiaMcGonagal) August 16, 2020
The fire was “burning so incredibly intense, so there is just so much heat going into it” that air rose in a swirl just like what happens in some thunderstorms, said Dawn Johnson, a senior meteorologist at the Reno NWS told AP. “It almost looks like a bomb went off.”
About 40,000 acres have been charred by a fire that was started by lightning close to Loyalton, a community along the California-Nevada border near Reno. As of Monday afternoon, officials said it was 10 per cent contained after destroying 11 structures, including five homes, the Tahoe National Forest said.
The Lake Fire is currently 19,026 acres & is 38% contained. The fire remains over 8 miles northeast of Interstate 5 & south of Hwy 138. Interstate 5 & Highway 138 are both open, however smoke may be seen from either route. For more info visit: https://t.co/ebHWYjBlve
— Angeles_NF (@Angeles_NF) August 18, 2020
Record-breaking heat is possible through the weekend, with triple-digit temperatures and unhealthy air predicted for many parts of the state.
Death Valley recorded a scorching 130 degrees (54.4 degrees Celsius) Sunday, which if the sensors and other conditions check out, would be the hottest Earth has been in more than 89 years and the third-warmest ever measured.