Share

Unique Combination of Dust Devil and Smoke Tornado Forms During Controlled Burn

March 22, 2014

A 150-acre prescribed burn in the Rocky Mountains last week turned into something that looked more like a disaster movie when smoke and debris swirled into a scary combination of a dust devil and a smoke tornado.

As firefighters filmed, the swirling inferno caught hundreds of tumbleweeds on fire and sucked them up into a smoky funnel that looked ominously like a tornado. Several firefighters, including Thomas Rogers, who was filming, were forced to run to safety, reports 9news.com. Luckily, no one was injured.

(MORE: A Nationwide Tornado Drought?)

Rogers, who has been a firefighter with South Metro Fire & Rescue for seven years, told 9news.com that he’s never seen anything like it.

"It was definitely interesting to see. I'm a fire buff as well as a weather buff and here I had a weather event and a fire event coming together and it was just really amazing to watch," Rogers said. "There's nothing you can do except get out of the way and wait for it to calm down."

Though the smoke-nado didn’t cause much damage, the video gives some unique insight into how a tornado forms.

“The cool thing about that video is that it was almost like a small scale version of how actual tornadic environments work,” says Weather Channel meteorologist Sarah Dillingham. “You can actually see the smoke pulled up from the ground and from the ashes pulled into the circulation. Where tornadoes form in clear air, with the smoke, you can see how the air flows into the funnel.”

As unique a phenomenon as it was, for Rogers, the event was a needed reminder about the unpredictability of fire.

"Fire can change at any time," Rogers told 9news.com. "Even on a prescribed burn, where we're in very controlled conditions, the unexpected can happen."

MORE: iWitness Photos of Tornadoes

Lancaster, Texas

Lancaster, Texas

This tornado photos was taken in April, 2012 near I-20 in Lancaster, TX. This system spawned a tornado so strong that it picked up trailers and tossed them around like matchbox cars. (iWitness weather user: ban_ss64)

  • Lancaster, Texas
  • What a Wedding Present!
  • Alpine, Tex.
  • Lyons, Kansas
  • Tuscaloosa, Alabama
  • Tipton, Oklahoma
  • Emporia, Kansas
  • Cherokee, Oklahoma
  • Salina, Kansas

Featured Blogs

A Mostly Mild and Dry January for U.S., Punctuated by Big Storms

By Dr. Jeff Masters
February 11, 2016

The strong El Niño event dubbed “Godzilla” by one oceanographer behaved more like a hero than a monster in January, at least when it came to conditions across the United States. Mild and dry weather prevailed over much of the nation, and where it was wet or snowy, the moisture was generally well predicted and widely appreciated, apart from a titanic Northeast snowstorm.

California: What a Difference a Month Makes

By Christopher C. Burt
January 8, 2016

One month ago I posted a blog about the precipitation deficits that were endemic in California at that time (December 9, 2015) but just prior to the beginning of a series of storms that rolled in. As was expected, the storm door opened and remains open. Here is where California now stands as of January 9th, 2016 precipitation-wise. Looking a lot better!

An extraordinary meteorological event; was one of its results a 1000-year flood?

By Stu Ostro
October 5, 2015

The confluence of meteorological ingredients the first weekend in October 2015 resulted in an extraordinary weather event with severe impacts. Was one of them a 1000-year flood?

Why the Arrest of a Science-Loving 14-year-old Matters

By Shaun Tanner
September 16, 2015

By now, many of you have heard or read about the arrest of Ahmed Mohamed, a 14-year-old high school student from Irving, Texas. Ahmed was arrested because school officials called the police after he showed one of his teachers his homemade clock. Mistaken for a bomb, Ahmed was taken into custody, interrogated, shamed, suspended (still on suspension today, Wednesday), and reprimanded. All of this after it has been found that the "device" he brought to school was indeed, a homemade clock.

2013-14 - An Interesting Winter From A to Z

By Tom Niziol
May 15, 2014

It was a very interesting winter across a good part of the nation from the Rockies through the Plains to the Northeast. Let's break down the most significant winter storms on a month by month basis.

What the 5th IPCC Assessment Doesn't Include

By Angela Fritz
September 27, 2013

Melting permafrost has the potential to release an additional 1.5 trillion tons of carbon into the atmosphere, and could increase our global average temperature by 1.5°F in addition to our day-to-day human emissions. However, this effect is not included in the IPCC report issued Friday morning, which means the estimates of how Earth's climate will change are likely on the conservative side.