A rare and fiery tornado was spotted Saturday near a fire in Northern California.
The National Weather Service Office issued a tornado warning for a pyrocumulonimbus cloud that formed by the Loyalton Fire, saying it was “capable of producing a fire-induced tornado and outflow winds in excess of 60 mph.”
A pyrocumulonimbus cloud forms above intense rising heat, typically from a fire or volcano. Fire tornadoes are created when the rising heat from a fire pulls in smoke, fire and dirt, creating a rotation vortex above the blaze, Brink said.
Fire tornadoes can be massive and deadly. In 2018, one in Redding claimed the lives of a firefighter and bulldozer driver battling the Carr Fire. When the National Weather Service surveyed the damage on that firenado, it determined it was equivalent to an EF-3 tornado with winds in excess of 143 mph.
Officials in California, Oregon and Colorado are battling a series of wildfires that have collectively torched more than 100,000 acres — and things could get worse with intense heat descending on much of the US.
The Loyalton Fire has burned 20,000 acres in the Tahoe National Forest near California’s border with Nevada. and was 5% contained by early Sunday. It’s burning east of the town of Loyalton.