August 18, 2020

As If 2020 Couldn’t Get Any Crazier, A Rare Fire Tornado Was Spotted In California

A fire tornado was spotted amidst the recent California fires spawned by the record heat wave.

This photo provided by Katelynn & Jordan Hewlett, a funnel appears in a thick plume of smoke from the Loyalton Fire is seen in Lassen County, Calif., Saturday, Aug. 15, 2020. A wildfire in Northern California on Saturday spawned at least one fire tornado that prompted the National Weather Service to issue a tornado warning. The Loyalton Fire in Lassen County, Calif., burned intensely amid hot and dry conditions on Saturday afternoon. (Katelynn & Jordan Hewlett via AP)

(CNN) – 2020 has reachedĀ into its bag of tricks againĀ and tossed out another surprise — this time in the form of a swirling fire. Or as meteorologists call it, a firenado — short for fire tornado.

The rare and fiery tornado was spotted Saturday near a fire in California. The National Weather Service Office issued a tornado warning for a pyrocumulonimbus cloud that formed by the Loyalton Fire, saying it was “capable of producing a fire-induced tornado and outflow winds in excess of 60 mph,” CNN meteorologist Haley Brink said.

A pyrocumulonimbus cloud forms above intense rising heat, typically from a fire or volcano. Fire tornadoes are created when the rising heat from a fire pulls in smoke, fire and dirt, creating a rotation vortex above the blaze, Brink said.