Last weekend I posted a video taken not too far from where I live showing a “fire tornado”—really a spinning vortex of rising air drawing its power from fire on the ground. It was pretty dramatic, mostly due to hundreds of tumbleweeds swirling around it, drawn in by the rotating column of wind.
After posting it, I got a note from Chris Tangey, who specializes in photography in Australia’s Outback. He took some footage of a fire tornado in 2012 that he claimed was better than what I posted … and he’s right.
Yegads. The speed and power of such a vortex depends on how quickly the air in the middle can rise, which in turn draws in air from farther out; as that air spins and falls in the rotation speeds up, tightening the vortex and magnifying it. As you can see in the fire, spurts of flame leap up the inside of the vortex, clearly giving it more strength. The sound and speed of it are enthralling.
I had never heard of this phenomenon until a year or so ago. But now there are cameras everywhere … and, sadly, with global warming likely increasing both the number and severity of wildfires, we’re bound to see lots more footage like this.
TODAY IN SLATE
Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
Alabama’s Insane New Abortion Law Gives Fetuses Lawyers and Puts Teenage Girls on Trial
Tattoo Parlors Have Become a Great Investment
Natasha Lyonne Is Coming to the Live Culture Gabfest. Are You?
A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently
How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.
How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully
On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.