Gargantuan Fort McMurray Wildfire Gets More Extreme, Creating Its Own Weather
The main ingredient in a pyrocumulus clouds is very intense heat, the type of heat you might find under a raging wildfire or over the caldera of an erupting volcano. Warm air is much lighter than cool air and the intense heat generated by a wildfire, or a volcanic eruption, causes the air to rise rapidly. As this updraft races skyward, the air cools and water droplets begin to form. Those droplets crash into immense amount of ash, soot and other debris into the cloud. This is part of the reason why pyrocumulus clouds have a distinct gray or brown hue.
“It was creating its own high winds yesterday and even lightning was coming from the smoke clouds it created,” Chad Morrison of Alberta Forestry told a briefing in Edmonton on Thursday.
A view from above
Most recent estimates the blaze has consumed about 25,000 acres and destroyed an estimated 1,600 structures.
(Headline image: EPA/CHRIS SCHWARZ/GOVERNMENT OF ALBERTA)