WBRZ Weather

Devil's breath spits fire

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Posted: May 20, 2014 11:01 AM by Meteorologist Josh Eachus
Updated: May 20, 2014 11:01 AM
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  Rating: 5.0 (1 vote)

Topics: weather, fire, firenado, drought

Pictures resembling the devil's dungeon at earth's core are real-life scenes that played out on the surface in Southern California last week.

Intense fires and powerful winds have combined to produce, rapidly spreading blazes and even so-called firenadoes.

Because warm air rises, the frightening but photogenic orange spirals or firenadoes, appear as intensely heated air rushes upward. Concurrently, surface winds blow into wildfire's base, causing the burning updraft to rotate. This creates a mesmerizing whirl of color, but also a life-threatening danger to firefighters. The wind columns inhale burning debris and can transport flaming material miles from the parent fire, sparking a new blaze elsewhere.

Most firenadoes usually last only a couple minutes.

The entire scenario that played out last week was the fiery combination of dry land, dry air, strong winds and record heat.

In a significant drought, much of Southwestern California has become a tinder box, badly in need of water. On the contrary, last week, strong winds known as the Santa Anas or devil's breath, transported even drier air from inland regions westward toward the coast. This drier advancement of air along with temperatures exceeding 100° in some locations meant local conditions were virtually at their spark point.

While many of the blazes have been contained, long-term trends indicate that the fire danger is still high for much of the Southwest.

You can get forecasts from Meteorologist Josh Eachus weekdays on 2une-In from 5-7am and News 2 at Noon from 12-1pm. Additionally, you can get the fastest and latest forecasts and weather news by checking in with wbrz.com/weather, liking Josh on Facebook and following him on Twitter.

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