New study explains creation of deadly California 'firenado'

December 6, 2018
Atmospheric sciences professor Neil Lareau, of the University of Nevada, Reno, documented this atmospheric phenomenon, a firenado, at the Carr Fire that devasted the region surrounding Redding, California in July. Credit: CalFire.

A rare fire tornado that raged during this summer's deadly Carr Fire in Northern California was created by a combination of scorching weather, erratic winds and an ice-topped cloud that towered miles into the atmosphere, according to a study announced Wednesday.

The churning funnel of smoke and flame killed a firefighter as it exploded in what already was a vast and devastating wildfire in July on the edge of Redding, about 250 miles (400 kilometers) north of San Francisco.

The wildfire claimed eight lives and destroyed more than 1,000 homes before it was contained on Aug. 30.

The study in the Geophysical Research Letters journal used satellite and radar data to suggest how a monstrous "firenado" the size of three football fields developed on July 26.

It said the firenado was formed in much the same way as a regular tornado, which differs from the "fire whirls" that are formed only by heat from a wildfire.

The only other documented case of such a "firenado" was during the 2003 Canberra fires in Australia, according to the study.

A key factor was the development of a cloud generated by the fire itself that was ice-topped and grew quickly, doubling in length in just 15 minutes. It reached as high as 39,000 feet (7.4 miles or 11.9 kilometers), according to the study, which was published on Nov. 21.

The development of that pyrocumulonimbus cloud "helped stretch the underlying column of air, concentrating the rotation near the surface" and causing tornado-strength winds that reached 143 mph, according to the study.

"This paints a clear picture of the sequence of events leading to the vortex development and intensification," said Neil Lareau of the University of Nevada, Reno, who co-authored the paper.

"3D rendering of radar reflectivity isosurfaces at 29 (red), 24 (orange), 20-10 (gray shades) dbZe. The vortex center locations are shown as the solid black line. The cloud base heights are shown as green contours." Credit: University of Nevada, Reno

Other factors included record , low humidity and a "near-surface cyclonic zone," according to the study. A wind shear occurs when the or direction suddenly changes, so that the wind actually is blowing in two opposite directions.

The shear near the ground set up the spin that developed the fire tornado plume, Lareau said.

"These observations may help forecasters and scientists identify - and potentially warn - for future destructive -generated vortices," according to the study.

Lareau is an assistant professor in the Physics Department of the College of Science. The article was co-authored by Nicholas Nausler of the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma and John Abatzoglou from the Department of Geography at the University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho.

Explore further: Deadly California blaze spawned destructive fire tornado

More information: "The Carr Fire Vortex: A Case of Pyrotornadogenesis?" Geophysical Research Letters, 2018.

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V4Vendicar
1 / 5 (1) Dec 06, 2018
The fires in California were caused by God to punish the Liberals for their Sins and their love for Lucifer.

MAGA. Trump 2020
Da Schneib
not rated yet Dec 06, 2018
And of course fire-generated events have never happened before. /sarcasm

One word: Dresden.
rrwillsj
not rated yet Dec 09, 2018
& Tokyo.
veefer is pissy that when he breaks his toys? The world just spins on, ignoring his tantrum.

2020 MAGA with multiple convictions & strict sentencing
for trumpenella's crime family.

After all, the family that preys together, should do the time together....

Though I dunno, won't orange hair clash terribly with the orange prison jumpsuit?

Didn't the author Patrick Dennis do a photo-book of these bungling oafs?

As the Bogus POTUS is hauled away after his impeachment? The VP comes skipping into the Oval Office with a big shiteating grin on his face,
Where he is stunned that Melanie is sitting behind the Desk. Claiming that the precedent was set during the Wilson Administration. That the First Lady is to be the Acting President. As her husband is declared incompetent & hospitalized.

The JCOS generals & admirals standing behind her nod their agreement.

Pennyante is crushed, No "Handmaidens" for him to abuse!

& best of all? Melanie hates pimp putin

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