Here’s something you don’t see everyday. A combination of what appears to be fire and a tornado. It’s a “fire-nado.”
This mass of fire spinning around at 20-plus miles per hour was captured by Chris Tangey in the Australian Outback last week. The Sun reports Tangey saying prior to this event that the weather was rather “uneventful.” That is until someone pointed the 52-year-old filmmaker’s attention to the scene behind him. Here’s what he had to say about it:
“I was about 300 metres away and there was no wind but the tornado sounded like a fighter jet. My jaw just dropped.”
“I’ve been shooting in the outback for 23 years and I have never seen anything like it. We’ve heard about them but they’re never seen.
“The whole experience was staggering and the length and variety were astonishing.”
Watch the footage in this report on ABC’s Good Morning America, which licensed the video:
Life’s Little Mysteries (via LiveScience) describes the fire as 100 feet high and reports that it is better compared to a dust devil than an actual tornado. It notes New York climatologist Mark Wysocki saying he would call them “fire vortices” or, if you wanted to jazz that up a bit, “fire devils.”
Here’s more about their formation, according to Life’s Little Mysteries:
Like the dust devils that spring up on clear, sunny days in the deserts of the Southwest, a fire devil is birthed when a disproportionately hot patch of ground sends up a plume of heated air. But while dust devils find their heat source in the sun, fire devils arise from hot spots in preexisting wildfires.
“These plumes form in a very small region over the land,” Wysocki explained. “They start to rise very rapidly, and as things start to rise, they suck the surrounding air in like a vacuum. Then you get this twisting that begins to resemble a vortex.”
Wysocki also said although the occurrence of a fire vortex like this is more common than you might think, they’re rarely seen — let alone filmed — because they are usually short lived. This makes the footage captured by Tangey all the more valuable for researchers hoping to learn more about the phenomenon. The Sun reports Tangey saying the fire vortex went on for 40 minutes.
Check out Tangey’s full video posted on Vimeo here.
A similar vortex lasting 15 minutes is reported to have occurred in 1923 after an earthquake in Kanto, Japan, which covers the Tokyo region. The fire killed 38,000 people, according to The Sun.