Massive ‘Fire Clouds’ Are Dropping Embers On Firefighters Battling US’s Biggest Blaze
An enormous wildfire in Oregon has created gigantic ‘fire clouds’, which are now dropping embers on the firefighters battling the blaze below.
On Friday, authorities reported that the Bootleg Fire had generated multiple fire clouds for four consecutive days, caused by air over the flames becoming super-heated, leading it to rise in a large column.
When the air with increased moisture rises, this rushes up the smoke column and into the atmosphere, at which point the moisture is condensed into droplets. It’s expected the conditions which formed these clouds will worsen over the course of the weekend.
As per AP, these clouds have risen six miles (10 kilometres) up into the atmosphere and are understood to be ‘easily visible from 100 to 120 air miles away’ (160 to 193 kilometres).
As well as water, these clouds also contain ash and particles from the blaze, creating a grey, foreboding appearance.
Furthermore, once a pyrocumulus cloud forms above a fire, meteorologists begin to watch out for the pyrocumulonimbus cloud, referred to by NASA as the ‘fire-breathing dragon of clouds’. These clouds are named as such on account of their heat and size being enough to create their own weather.
As per AP, a worst-case scenario would see one such cloud spark a ‘fire tornado’, generating its own dry lightning and hailstone, but without rainfall. This could lead to dangerous hot winds and particulate matter from the smoke column being sent up to 10 miles (16 kilometres) above the Earth.
On Wednesday, July 14, the National Weather Service reported ‘terrifying’ satellite imagery showing the formation of a pyrocumulonimbus cloud.
On Thursday, a pyrocumulus cloud located on the southern flank of the fire partially collapsed, leading to dangerous winds and embers falling on fire crews.
This incident led to the emergency evacuation of all firefighters and dirt-moving equipment. Thankfully, no injuries have been reported.
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