California Wildfires Are Making Their Own Storm Clouds

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Tim Pearce Energy Reporter
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Several fires in California are creating their own localized weather systems that affect the wildfires behavior in unpredictable and dangerous ways.

Large, hot wildfires can change the local atmosphere so much that they begin to create storm clouds and wind gusts. Pyrocumulus clouds have formed towering pillars above several of the largest fires in Northern California. The clouds are composed of the water vapor from burning foliage that has risen on the fire’s heat and attached to smoke particles in the air, CNN reports.

The fires’ miniature wind gusts push the flames in unpredictable ways, complicating firefighters’ strategy of fighting it and making the fire much more dangerous to surrounding communities. The pyrocumulus clouds also behave similar to storm clouds and can create their own thunder and lightning.

“We are seeing more destructive, larger fires burning at rates that we have historically never seen,” Cal Fire regional battalion chief Jonathan Cox told CNN.

California’s Carr Fire, the ninth largest fire in the state’s history, has burned more than 100,000 acres and killed six people near Redding, according to The Associated Press. (RELATED: Arizona Firefighters Head To California To Help Battle Blazes Rampaging State)

Tens of thousands of people have been ordered to evacuate their homes across the state, The AP reports. Hundreds of firefighters are traveling from 16 states across the U.S. to join California emergency personnel in fighting the blazes.

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