Watch for those fiery tornadoes

This story in NatGeo online oddly attracted me. The viral You Tube video is what the story is about, the subject being a “fire tornado.”

These fiery whirling dervishes of nature are more akin to dust devils than to real tornadoes which can cause nine kinds of hell in practically every part of the United States. This partial explanation from Wikipedia comes pretty close to explaining these whirlwinds:

 “Dust devils form when hot air near the surface rises quickly through a small pocket of cooler, low- pressure air above it. If conditions are just right, the air may begin to rotate. As the air rapidly rises, the column of hot air is stretched vertically, thereby moving mass closer to the axis of rotation, which causes intensification of the spinning effect … “

Most dust devils that form here in Southeast Texas are generally small in size. The same applies, though not always, for tornadoes. I would guess that the size has to do with the humid air we normally have here on the coast. I did see some larger whirlwinds when I have visited Colorado, where this fire tornado takes place. I have never seen a fire tornado although I have seen and been through a few tornadoes. I have seen firestorms as well. Or rather, I have seen at least one firestorm. This is a phenomenon which takes place when a fire is so large that it sustains its own wind system. This can occur naturally, as in a large wildfire, or in other instances such as happened most notably in the massive fire bombing of Dresden, Germany, in World War II.

The fire storm I witnessed happened during a fire that destroyed a plywood mill. It was what you would call a “massive” blaze. I could see the currents inside the heat and fire that drifted across the street and caught a wood yard on fire. A few hours later I went home, about 10 miles in the country from the fire. I found ashes up to a foot long and nearly as wide in the cow pasture. Had it not been spring and the area fair with rain, half the countryside could have been burned.

Nature can play all kinds of tricks with you and your surroundings. When that happens. You need to be elsewhere.