September 24 2021 03:30 pm

A rare fire tornado is spotted near a blaze in California

California

A funnel is formed in smoke from the Loyalton Fire, in Lassen County, California, U.S., August 15, 2020 in this screen grab obtained from a social media video. Dylyn Walker/via REUTERS

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

 (CNN) — 2020 has reached into its bag of tricks again and tossed out another surprise — this time in the form of 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.

Fire tornadoes can be massive and deadly. In 2018, one claimed the lives of a firefighter and bulldozer driver battling the Carr Fire. When the National Weather Service surveyed the damage on that firenado, it determined it was equivalent to an EF-3 tornado with winds in excess of 143 mph.

Officials in California, Oregon and Colorado are battling a series of wildfires that have collectively torched more than 100,000 acres — and things could get worse with intense heat descending on much of the US.

The Loyalton Fire has burned 20,000 acres and was 5% contained by early Sunday. It’s burning east of the town of Loyalton.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trademark and Copyright 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

Don't miss

Latest News

More News