Fire Tornadoes

Fire tornadoes, despite their name, are more closely related to dust devils or waterspouts than to true tornadoes. Though rarely documented, they are relatively common, especially in wildfires. The heat of the fire creates an updraft of warm, rising air that leaves behind a low-pressure region. Air from outside is drawn toward this low-pressure area, gets heated, and rises. As the outside air gets pulled in, any vorticity or rotation it had gets intensified via conservation of angular momentum–the same way a spinning ice skater speeds up when she pulls her arms in. The result is the tightly-spinning vortex at the heart of a fire tornado. (Video credit: C. Fleur; via NatGeo)

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