Saturday, August 15, 2020

A New Type of Weather Warning: Firenado

Wow. After watching radar daily for more than 49 years, I thought I had seen it all when it came to storm warnings.

I was wrong.

The National Weather Service in Reno this afternoon issued what I believe is the first-ever "Firenado" Warning. A firenado is a whirl, like a waterspout, that is caused by extremely hot air being stretched in the vertical and spinning rapidly. They are a hazard to firemen and residents of the immediate area.
The firenado above is small and not much of a threat unless it moved over a bystander. But, there are a few giant firenadoes, which is likely what we had this afternoon. Take a look at the diagram below. On the left is the type of radar image you see on TV. On the right is the wind data.
Click to enlarge. The red polygon, upper left, is the
tornado warning for the firenado.
The rotation at upper right is indicative of a moderate to strong tornado. It is likely this is was a very powerful firenado. While I've never heard of an official warning category called firenado, I salute them for their industriousness and creativity. They may have saved some lives. I certainly would have wanted to evacuate the area had I been living there.

Addition: There is a video of the giant vortex here.

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