s brutal heat continues to scorch the West, it is sparking wildfires that are burning through hundreds of thousands of acres of land. This year’s wildfires are outpacing the damage caused by last year’s record-setting fire season in California.
One blaze in California sparked a firenado over the weekend—the state’s second in three weeks. It indicates the severity of the fires burning in the state and spreading across the West in general. With more heat and single-digit humidity on tap for the start of the week, there could, unfortunately, be more extreme fire behavior.
Firenadoes are also known as fire tornadoes, fire twisters, or perhaps most accurately, fire devils. They occur when large wildfires superheat the air. That causes the air to rise. As it rises, it cools and condenses in the upper reaches of the atmosphere, creating unstable conditions and a clash of air that can cause firenadoes to form. Researchers are still studying precisely what conditions lead to firenadoes, but they are among the world’s rarest extreme weather phenomena.