The Terrifying Science of the “Fire Tornado” (Video)

Slate in motion.
May 16 2014 3:58 PM

What’s Really Going on in a “Firenado”?

It’s called a fire whirl, and it’s basically as terrifying as it looks.

The spectacular formations occur when extreme heat and wind conditions combine to form dancing eddies of air. The worst instance on record occurred in Japan in 1923.

Update, June 4, 2014: Because of a copyright claim, we’ve removed the video from this post.

Dallas Jensen is a regular video contributor to Slate.

  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Dec. 19 2014 4:15 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? Staff writer Lily Hay Newman shares what stories intrigued her at the magazine this week.