Pyrocumulonimbus

In the panhandle of Texas, about 30 miles southeast of Amarillo, was a large wildfire Friday. The Texas Forest Service said about 34,000 acres were burning. The image below shows where the fire was through a channel on the GOES16. It shows the “hot spot”. The red spot on the map is the wildfire.

This next image shows the wildfire and now a severe thunderstorm to the east/northeast of the fire. The fire was so intense, and with just the right conditions, it produced a severe storm.

This next image shows the same area. This is a different channel on the GOES16 than the images above. The fire shows up as a black color. The severe thunderstorm is again to the east/northeast. This image also shows all of the lightning strikes in this storm.

Here is a time-lapse of the smoke from the fire and the storm developing overhead.

 

Thunderstorm clouds are call cumulonimbus clouds. This thunderstorm cloud is called pyrocumulonimbus. I have also heard it called a fire cloud. In Latin pyro means “fire” and cumulus means “heap or pile”. Pyrocumulus clouds can form over large wild fires and if intense enough can develop into a thunderstorm getting the name pyrocumulonimbus.

The intense heat from the fire produces rapidly rising air. This rising air pulls in cooler air from outside. It cools and condenses as it rises. The pressure lowers as you go up in the atmosphere. If the air rises fast enough you can get a thunderstorm like the one that occurred on Friday. These thunderstorms could be dangerous because the lightning it produces could spark another wildfire. In addition to that,  as the storm weakens the downdraft could spread the flames.

 

 

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Posted under Fire, GOES

This post was written by Schnack on May 11, 2018

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