Researchers have confirmed the existence of a fire tornado.
In 2003, the Canberra bushfires in Australia caused around 250 million dollars in damages, but researchers have confirmed that it wasn’t just the flames that caused the losses – a tornado produced by the fires also contributed to the destruction of 530 homes.
Lead researcher, Rick McRae says that after studying weather data, video and photographs during the fires, his team is able to verify that tornados can be produced by a fire. There has been an assumption in the field that a large fire could generate a tornado, but this is the first time it can be proven and documented.
As McRae explains, a massive fire like the one in Canberra will cause a large smoke cloud and the cloud can then form a thunderstorm able to produce lightening, rain and hail and in this case formed a true tornado.
The force of the tornado blew roofs off of houses and cars off of the roads. As observed by a resident, "It sounded like a jumbo jet was flying down our street. It probably moved 400 to 500 metres in under a minute."
Researchers believe that the findings will help emergency personnel to better understand bushfires in the future.