Wildfires can change the weather and cause storms

The combination of heat and smoke from wildfires can contribute to the formation of clouds, some of which cause storms.

large-scale Bootleg Fire Burning in southern Oregon has begun to behave as extreme as “actually changing the weather,” forcing firefighters to withdraw from some of the fire departments. News report..

News headlines claiming that the fire is “very big and creating its own weather” Focus on social media.. This claim is surprising to those who believe that fires are the result of the weather, and not the other way around.


Can wildfires create their own weather?

Source of information


Okay. A fire can begin the process of creating clouds. More severe fires can cause localized thunderstorms.

What we found

Wildfires can create special clouds International Cloud Atlas It is called “Great Fire Cumulus”. These clouds are formed by local natural heat sources such as wildfires and volcanoes, and are at least partially composed of water vapor.

“Through physics, we know that warm air rises,” said Robin Hefernan, National Weather Service National Fire Meteorologist and Popular Meteorologist. “Therefore, if there is a large heat source, much of this warm air will rise from the surface. When it rises and reaches the dew point temperature, it will condense into clouds.”

Smoke from fire further aids cloud formation as water condenses into smoke particles, Heffernan explained.

“Now, when the fire grows very large, or when it begins to show extreme fire behavior, there can be more severe uplifts that can develop into something like a thunderstorm,” Heffernan said. Stated.

The· National Wildfire Coordination Group Extreme fire behavior is said to mean that the fire is behaving in a way that makes direct control impossible. Such fires are unpredictable because they “have some impact on the environment and behave irregularly and sometimes dangerously.”

One way NWCG can identify extreme fire behavior is due to the presence of fire whirls.The· US Forest Office A fire vortex can be defined as a “rotating vortex of rising hot air and gas” that can carry fire and everything else in the air. It is said that a large fire whirl can be as intense as a small tornado.The· Library in Japan The 2018 Carfire in California is said to have created a vortex with a wind estimated at 143 mph, the strength of an EF3 tornado.

The Library of Congress states that fire tornadoes are rare and do not have a single definition shared by all experts. A NOAA Research Letter He said the 2003 Australian fire produced “the only recorded case of a flame tornado.” The last word is the scientific term used for fire tornadoes. The investigation letter concluded that the Carfire tornado may have been the second case, but further investigation is needed to confirm it.

However, just because a tornado of fire is rare does not mean that a fire whirl or a thunderstorm caused by a fire called a fire storm is also rare.

“They are not uncommon, I say that. We get some of them in the year,” Heffernan said. “And more and more people are seen every year because the burning conditions are so intense. We have such a dry condition on the surface, which leads to more intense burning, so especially in the west. So this tends to be more common in our fires. “

On the wind Royal Meteorological Society of England Fires can lead to lightning and, in rare cases, rain. But even that doesn’t come as a rest for firefighters.

“If it has enough water to settle and fall as rainfall, it will evaporate in the process, creating much of the mere downflow of gusts to the surface,” Heffernan said. .. “Of course, as you can imagine, this is very dangerous for firefighters in the area.”

Fortunately, these storms shouldn’t be a problem for people outside the area where wildfires are currently occurring.

“It doesn’t move that far, but those physics will collapse farther than you get from that intense heat source,” Hefernan said. “So you’re mainly looking at the effects on the fire itself, and then you’re really closing the neighborhood.”

That does not mean that the fire does not affect the weather away from the source.Many in the United States Witness the hazy sky This week, smoke from a large Pacific wildfire erupted into the atmosphere, Spread across the continent, And the smoke has some effect on weather conditions. Heffernan says that solar radiation can create a kind of “shading effect,” which lowers the temperature slightly and creates a slightly moist environment.

According to Hefernan, this is a lively fire season, so be careful outdoors. Heffernan suggests that people do not burn campfires, extinguish ongoing flames that can be safe and follow other guidance Fire protection authorities recommend You do to prevent dangerous wildfires.

Other articles on VERIFY: No, heat waves did not melt wind turbines in Texas

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Wildfires can change the weather and cause storms

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