'Tornado of fire' in Brazil

This is an interesting video of a fire vortex that has been making the rounds on the web. I’ve seen this phenomenon before in wildfires here in California, but this one is rather dramatic in color, intensity, and longevity. It’s worth a look. Don’t be surprised if we see a “global warming increases the frequency of fire tornados” sometime in the future.

In regards to the issue of seeing more “wild weather phenomena” lately in the news, I’ll point out that the expansion of cheap high quality cameras has made the reporting frequency increase thanks to millions of ordinary citizens being armed with them.

That shouldn’t be confused with a statistical increase of occurrence. For example, one could argue that with more cameras afoot in the field, we’d see more UFO and bigfoot sitings, but the truth is that these have not increased like weather sitings have.

In this video from AP, that also has the “Tornado of Fire”, note the stopped line of cars.

How many photos and videos of this event were taken by people that had cameras? I’m guessing a lot.

Here’s another one just this week:

and another in 2008…

In fact if you search YouTube you’ll find dozens…ten years ago could we have seen these? If one looks at the frequency of “fire tornados” in the last few years it would be easy to conclude they are a rising trend, more extreme weather due to global warming fodder for people like Joe Romm.

But the fact is that the frequency of reporting and sharing has increased.

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50 thoughts on “'Tornado of fire' in Brazil

  1. As a former Airtanker Pilot, I’ve seen lots of them. Usually in brush or prairie fires.
    Saw one up on the high plains of E. Montana that was very similar. When you
    get 10-15 mile flame fronts,it can get interesting…
    REPLY: I expect you’d see a lot of them, and how many of them were you able to share with the world on video? -Anthony

  2. Rotation on the Hawaii one appears to be clockwise. I cannot tell which way the Brazil one is rotating.

  3. In the 1983 firestorm across the Otway Ranges (Victoria, Australia) people watching the fire from behing the direction of travel reported a “glowing, pulsing, ball of red” riding above the fire, and likened it to photos of atomic bomb explosions.

  4. But the fact is that the frequency of reporting and sharing has increased.
    This may appear to be ‘off-topic,’ but it is eminently ON-TOPIC:
    Here’s another STAT:
    An associate professor at the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication, Scott R. Maier, conducted research into the accuracy of newsprint, and found that about 50% of 1,220 news stories contained errors. And only 23 of these (about 2%) ever printed a correction.
    And ANOTHER:
    The Media Research Center’s latest analysis of network TV “news” finds that, for the first seven months of 2007, ABC, CBS and NBC ran 650 stories on homicides involving firearms. They balanced this with stories of guns saving people from crime – twice – for a ratio of 325 to one against the public who defend themselves.
    Criminologists have repeatedly found that guns are used to PREVENT crimes far more often than to COMMIT crimes. Of 13 scholarly studies on the issue, depending on time frames and the set of respondents asked, guns stop crime between 700,000 and 3.4 million times every year.
    But those fact go against the news media’s “feelings” about guns.
    THE MESSAGE HERE?
    The MSM publishes ONLY that which fits it current agenda, and THAT INCLUDES the REAL TRUTH™ about climate.

  5. Roger Carr writes about an observable phenomenon in intense, large fires.
    Keep in mind that fire requires fuel and oxygen. When a fire burns, it induces upward convection in the heated surrounding air; an updraught. The updraught draws with it loose, combustible matter that is not fully burnt because of a lack of free oxygen close to the surface fire. However, when the updraught mixes with the freely moving air, oxygen becomes available and, if the temperature is still high enough, it produces an airborne “furnace”.
    The surface fire is unable to draw down oxygen against convection, and the surface boundary effect also impairs horizontal airflow. But above the surface fire, there is much less resistance to fresh air being fed into such a furnace.
    That’s my hypothesis anyway.

  6. One of my co-workers, normally a fairly intelligent man, has frequently said that global warming causes more instability in the atmosphere which then causes extreme weather events, including usual cold. Basically “The Day After Tomorrow” theory of climate.
    I jut bite my tongue, there’s no reasoning with someone who is convinced he’s right.
    BTW, he also fell for the “two moons” hoax about Mars. I did set him straight about that.

  7. Why are you calling them tornadoes? This is a ground effect, surely… nothing more than a dust devil (we call them willy willies).
    I understand that “tornadoe of fire” has much more impact, but it’s utterly wrong…

  8. Bernd Felsche says: (August 27, 2010 at 9:28 pm) Roger Carr writes about an observable phenomenon in intense, large fires.
        Keep in mind that fire requires fuel and oxygen. When a fire burns, it induces upward convection in the heated surrounding air …

    Thank you for that explanation, Bernd. Shame there were generally not video cameras thick on the ground back then so we could study it. (I do have a still shot of my own house burning on that day with a “mushroom” above it.)

  9. Aldi says: “The models did predict, that global warming would make tornadoes combustible.”
    Further proof that Warmists are making this stuff up as they go.

  10. “Don’t be surprised if we see a “global warming increases the frequency of fire tornados” sometime in the future.”
    Anthony you have to stop giving the warmers ideas.

  11. I was waiting for a biblical reference, you know, about the pillar of fire.
    I’ve been trying to point this same thing out to people for a while. Things aren’t happening more often as much as they are being recorded. I’m fairly sure there was a quote from as recently as the 80s that there did not exist a film or video of a real world car crash happening. Now I can see a bunch on youtube on demand.
    Camera phones are only 7 years old, and video even more recent. Almost everyone has one with them at all times these days. I’d be surprised if I didn’t see interesting things once in a while. Heck, I even recorded a few seconds of hail whacking my car the other day.
    I haven’t believed the “wacky weather” claims for a while. Nothing is new, it’s just that we can hear about it instantly. Even 100 years ago news took days to get anywhere. How long did it take for people to hear about the San Francisco earthquake? Live reporting around the world only became possible once there were a bunch of satellites flying, so late 60s (The Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love” was played live on the world’s first global satellite TV link).

  12. Bernd Felsche says:
    August 27, 2010 at 9:28 pm
    The updraught draws with it loose, combustible matter that is not fully burnt because of a lack of free oxygen close to the surface fire.

    That’s a bit misleading. It reads like bits of combustable solids are drawn up into the updraft. That’s not how it works.
    The combustible “matter” is actually a combustable gas variously called wood gas, syngas, and producer gas. It’s a mixture of CO2, CO, and H2. It is a normal intermediate product in the combustion of biomass and usually ignites rather close to the source where the CO grabs an oxygen atom and becomes CO2 and the H2 grabs an oxygen atom to become H2O, both of which are exothermic and thus release heat.
    This is why if you closely examine a burning log the flame begins away from the wood not directly on it. The gap between the wood and the flame is where the wood gas is mixing with enough oxygen to ignite. In an oxygen deprived situation it will ignite whenever it gets far enough away to get some oxygen. In the case of these fire devils (they remind me of dust devils not tornadoes) the wood gas swirls upward to quite some height before it gets enough oxygen to burn up.
    I see smaller versions of these fire devils quite often when I’m burning landscape waste due to the way I burn it – I accumulate the burn pile one fork-full at a time with a tractor (about 500 pounds each) and mash it down close to the ground using the bottom side of the front loader bucket. About six or eight of those will make a 20′ by 20′ burn pile about 24″ high and level. Depending on how I light it and how the wind is blowing and how dense (percentage of logs vs. looser stuff) I often get a few fire devils. They appear most reliably when the wind is blowing enough to spread the fire across the whole square patch with a light ash layer all across it. The ash keeps oxygen from mixing fast with the underlying unburnt stuff and the intense heat of the coals makes for a nice updraft sucking that wood gas up through the ash where it ignites in a twister that dances around the fire.
    Wood gas is neat stuff.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wood_gas

  13. Fire is a funny thing.
    Norman McLean (author of “A River Runs Though It”) alludes to the forest fire “blowup” phenomena in his remarkable study of the deadly 1949 Mann Gulch fire, “Young Men and Fire.” All three of the video clips seem to show a variant of blowup behavior.
    http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/500616.html
    “There they could see what is really not possible to see: the center of a blowup. It is really not possible to see the center of a blowup because the smoke only occasionally lifts, and when it does all that can be seen are pieces, pieces of death flying around looking for you—burning cones, branches circling on wings, a log in flight without a propeller. Below in the bottom of the gulch was a great roar without visible flames but blown with winds on fire.”
    For whatever it’s worth, the Wikipedia page about “Young Men and Fire” states:
    “Maclean and Laird came to new conclusions on the fire’s events: that the wind went in the opposite direction than was originally thought possible, and once the fire got started, it created its own unique weather system (which few thought possible before this research)…”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Young_Men_and_Fire
    Personally, on this “fire tornado” phenomena I’d much rather listen to the opinions of a USFS forest fire investigator or a genuine smokejumper out of Missoula than the idiotic bloviations of a “climate scientist.”
    For anyone interested, “Young Men and Fire” is a superb narrative discussion of forest fire behavior, and of course Norman Maclean was a great writer.

  14. I am a 50 year long serving member of the nsw rural fire service in sydney australia I have seen so called fire tornadoes in many fires I have attended over the years ,thay are normal in australia fires .my message to the global warmists just wake up you are being used in a big way

  15. Anthony…
    “In regards to the issue of seeing more “wild weather phenomena” lately in the news, I’ll point out that the expansion of cheap high quality cameras has made the reporting frequency increase thanks to millions of ordinary citizens being armed with them.”
    Exactly right!

  16. In fact if you search YouTube you’ll find dozens…ten years ago could we have seen these?
    Not unless today’s technologies had been available — but if you’d been physically present, yes, you’d have seen them.
    NJ got the National Guard involved with aerial firefighting back in 1980 — the most spectacular fire-whirl I ever saw was in the early ’90s when a portion of the front we were fighting *jumped* across a four-lane road, hit the woods on the other side, then spiraled higher than I was flying, and I was at 300 feet AGL. It lasted less than a minute, but it was a genuine “Oh, snip” event…

  17. You can see dozens of these close up and personal every year at Burning Man, minus the “fire in the hole” effect from sucking combustion up off the ground. However, once the Burning Man folks get the idea, I bet it won’t take long before we see it there too.

  18. In my line of work (prescribed burning & wildland fire fighting), fire whirls are actually quite a common occurrence. Since most people don’t have regular exposure to the phenomenon, they consider it something out of the ordinary. (Heck, most people consider any fire, much less a tree torching and throwing off embers or a fire whirl zipping around, to be “something out of the ordinary”.)
    Anthony, I’ve got thousands of pictures of fire if you ever need any for your blog(s). (Provided gratis, of course.)
    PS: Remember, you don’t check your “climate forecast” before lighting or fighting a fire— you check your “weather forecast“. 😉

  19. Last summer in Aus, in terms of fire, was a non-event. Compared to “Black Saturday” the year before and the town which suffered most, was it due to global warming? No. I was due to stupid council policy and a faulty powerline.
    This summer, I’d reckon, will be a cool one (No flys again! Yay!).

  20. “… conducted research into the accuracy of newsprint, and found that about 50% of 1,220 news stories contained errors.”
    And the other 50%, of course, were just plain wrong.

  21. On another but related note…. a tired saw that will not die!
    http://www.torontosun.com/news/columnists/thane_burnett/2010/08/25/15138306.html
    With the drought in Russia that saw 54 people die in forest fires — here in Canada, air tanker pilots Tim Whiting of Langley, B.C., and Brian Tilley of Edmonton, Alb., were killed last month battling B.C. fires in parched conditions — Stocks has little doubt climate change is impacting global wildfires.
    That may lead to, over the next fifty years, an increase in both the frequency and severity of fires across Canada.
    “The resources we have will only go so far,” Stocks explains.

    “My personal opinion is an assumption,” Johann Goldammer, director of The Global Fire Monitoring Center in Germany tells QMI Agency in an email exchange.
    “Climate change coupled with anthropogenic impacts…will aggravate the situation and result in more frequent occurrences and severity of wildfire activity globally.”

    So there is your answer to what is happening in Brazil! Here come the fire tornadoes…DUCK!

  22. Gerald Machnee says: August 27, 2010 at 8:29 pm
    Rotation on the Hawaii one appears to be clockwise. I cannot tell which way the Brazil one is rotating.

    Northern hemisphere tornadoes rotate counterclockwise, opposite the direction of the Hawaiian video.
    Southern hemisphere tornadoes rotate clockwise, but the Brazilian one is rotating counterclockwise. Araçatuba is 21°S, so it, too, is rotating the ‘wrong’ direction.
    Coriolis effect over small areas and short time spans is far too weak to set rotation direction for fire tornadoes (and bathtub drains). The direction for these is set by whichever turbulent swirl is present when the updraft is strong enough to self sustain.

  23. >>But the fact is that the frequency of reporting and sharing has increased.
    And there is a camera on every mobile telephone.

  24. “But the fact is that the frequency of reporting and sharing has increased. ”
    No different than the opening of the NWP.
    Before radar, GPS, satellites, who was stupid enough to go up there and look?
    Then once they got there, who was stupid enough to try and make it through?
    Not many….It was a total crap shoot.

  25. B.C. said August 28, 2010 at 5:50 am: “In my line of work (prescribed burning & wildland fire fighting), fire whirls are actually quite a common occurrence.”
    B.C., if you could take a look at my comments above at 3:35 am, would you be so kind as to briefly explain the difference between “fire whirls” (others above also have used that or a similar term) and what Maclean calls a “blowup” in “Young Men and Fire.”
    Are these basically the same thing? Is the “fire whirl” or “fire tornado” simply an instance of the “blowup?”
    It’s been a while since I read “Young Men and Fire” and since I personally visited Mann Gulch in Montana, but if anything the conflagration that Maclean described was more of a “fire hurricane” than a “fire whirl.” I would imagine it looked something like the videos shown above, but a great deal more terrifying.

  26. In regards to the issue of seeing more “wild weather phenomena” lately in the news, I’ll point out that the expansion of cheap high quality cameras has made the reporting frequency increase thanks to millions of ordinary citizens being armed with them.

    Not to mention cameras and videos built into cellphones as well as more videos in police cars, cheap hand held video cameras, CCTV run amok etc. The same issue of technology applies to hurricane detection compared to 100 years ago.
    How many people had cheap digital mobile phones with cameras and videos in the 1960s or 1970s?

  27. In fact if someone said in the 1960s or 1970s cameras and videos, built into cellphones, would soon become commonplace they would be laughed at. (I’m sure someone predicted it though).

  28. Talking of the spread of mobile phones (many coming ready shipped with cameras and videos) see Africa. The reporting of ‘unusaual’ weather events will only grow, but it will be trupeted as a sign of CAGW. There is also the issue of instant images. People can simpy upload photos and movies straight onto the net or email it to the MSM. The BBC in fact encourages this for certain news stories.

    “The increase in the number of mobile cellular subscriptions over the last five years has defied all predictions and Africa remains the region with the highest mobile growth rate,” according to an ITU document “Information Society Statistical Profiles 2009: Africa”.
    a href=”http://www.ghanabusinessnews.com/2010/01/04/more-in-africa-use-mobile-phones-than-on-any-other-continent/”>GBN January 4, 2010

  29. Douglas Dc says:
    August 27, 2010 at 8:23 pm
    REPLY: I expect you’d see a lot of them, and how many of them were you able to share with the world on video? -Anthony
    No video,too busy trying to keep flying. 😉
    With regards to the above posts “Storm King Mountain” as a close to Mann Gulch in
    modern times as it got. The Redmond, Or. Hotshots and Missoula smoke jumpers lost
    on 7/6/94 I knew most of them from my years at Redmond and Missoula Tanker bases. It too was a “Fire Hurricane.” The best description possible..

  30. Douglas DC: “Storm King Mountain” as a close to Mann Gulch in modern times as it got.”
    I had the privilege in summer 1994 to hike up to Mann Gulch with a copy of “Young Men and Fire” in my backpack, which I was reading at the time. I stayed there all day, absorbing the events and going up and down through the gulch, trying to understand what Norman Maclean was describing. It was a humbling experience, seeing the crosses and imagining what those boys went through.
    Obviously these kinds of fires have nothing to do with “climate change,” and for the delusional AGW cultists to say so is both pathetic and extremely annoying.
    Via your comments, Douglas DC, I have just discovered that Norman Maclean’s son John Norman Maclean – who edited “Young Men and Fire” – also wrote a book about Storm King called “Fire on the Mountain” which I have just put on my September reading list. I don’t know how I missed that.

  31. Anthony is correct about the number being “reported” versus the number that actually are. Still, for many of us not in the line of work that would expose us to them, they are fascinating. The first “fire tornado” I recall seeing was a Hollywood special effect in The Ten Commandments. I now wonder if de Mille got his idea from seeing one in reality.

  32. CodeTech August 28, 2010 at 2:22 am
    I was waiting for a biblical reference, you know, about the pillar of fire.
    I’ve been trying to point this same thing out to people for a while. Things aren’t happening more often as much as they are being recorded. I’m fairly sure there was a quote from as recently as the 80s that there did not exist a film or video of a real world car crash happening. Now I can see a bunch on youtube on demand.
    Camera phones are only 7 years old, and video even more recent.

    How soon we forget; do we all not remember the full-size VHS format camcorders? Or it’s cousin, the little VHS-C format? (I still have a functioning camcorder, although I seldom use it for more than it’s optics to NTSC format these days …)
    Or, how America’s Funniest Home Videos gives an address that (gasp) -tapes- could be sent to?
    Ref – VHS format, timeline – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VHS
    .

  33. Jimbo August 28, 2010 at 8:39 am
    How many people had cheap digital mobile phones with cameras and videos in the 1960s or 1970s?

    Are you kidding? Any metropolitan area had at most about 18 frequencies spread across two or three frequency bands (Low-VHF, High-VHF, UHF) as part of the MTS or IMTS and RCC (Radio Common Carrier) services for the use by _millions_ of people. There were waiting lists (measured in years) in most metropolitan to get ‘mobile’ service!
    The ‘mobile phones’ in the 60’s period had tube-type RF PA (Radio Frequency power amplifie) stages! The phones in the 70’s were not that much better; we’re still talking equipment mounted permanently in the car (exc in a few rare cases).
    Some history (since I grew up and studied these ‘services’):
    Improved Mobile Telephone Service (IMTS) subscriber equipment:
    http://www.privateline.com/PCS/mobilephonepictures.htm
    Technical oveview, MTS, IMTS, RCC (Radio Common Carrier) service:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Improved_Mobile_Telephone_Service
    .

  34. When I was living in Bolivia’s Amazon jungle 300 km north of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, back in 1996, we had one of the worst jungle fires remembered in the region. The dry season begins around April 16th every year and lasts until September 25th, with not a single drop of rain in that period. The underbrush becomes dry as paper. What’s worse, palm trees known as “cusi” and “motacú” have leaves that, when dry, are as flammable as kerosene. Actually, people use them for starting fires when there is no paper of liquid fuels available.
    Indians and settlers use motacú leaves for thatching their roofs and making walls weaving the leaves. If a house catches fire it will disappear in a firestorm in no more than 1 minute, a quite very common accident. They will build a new shack in two days, with the help of their neighbors.
    On August 15th, the fire almost burnt down the entire ‘Guarayo’ indian village of Urubichá, where I was living. And by December the entire region had blossomed again when the rainy season returned on Septemeber 25th, as a Swiss watch. Jungles have an astounding capacity of recovery, and ashes from the fires are an excellent fertilizer in a lateritic clay soil normally deprived of nutritents lixiviated by rains. It has been that way since eons ago.

  35. _Jim, I was referring to video recording ability in everyone’s pocket… I’ve had a camcorder since 1984 (not likely to forget about that – lol).
    A few weeks back there was a car crash on a local street. There were probably 100 people there, I would say MOST of them had their cell phones out taking pictures. In the “old days” you would have had to bring a camera.

  36. Garry says:
    August 28, 2010 at 11:28 am
    “Via your comments, Douglas DC, I have just discovered that Norman Maclean’s son John Norman Maclean – who edited “Young Men and Fire” – also wrote a book about Storm King called “Fire on the Mountain” which I have just put on my September reading list. I don’t know how I missed that.”
    Read “Young men and Fire “that year in Prescott Az., then we get sent to Grand Junction . We got sent back to Redmond,Or. the day before that happened. Always felt a bit guilty about not being able to help, but, you could’ve had every Airtanker and
    Helicopter in the country there, and I doubt if it would’ve done any good. One of the
    Redmond Hotshots that survived was the son of an old friend. his testimony put that
    guilt to rest…

  37. CodeTech August 28, 2010 at 1:49 pm
    _Jim, I was referring to video recording ability in everyone’s pocket… I’ve had a camcorder since 1984 (not likely to forget about that – lol).
    A few weeks back there was a car crash on a local street. …

    Fire … major … event …
    ‘car crash on a local street’ – not so much. (Unless it’s a really, really big crash!)
    Big events draw out the cameras and video equipment … I used to pack my Canon AE-1 (w/telephoto lens) in my briefcase prepared for any event at any time … now of course it’s more like a Canon S3 IS (which does pretty good audio and video too).
    There is also a contingent out there who (used to) constantly monitor the PD (and FD) frequencies … maybe working the local ‘beat’ for stories or freelance, prepared with camera and video gear given the advent of affordable consumer-grade VHS that didn’t require two men and a boy to transport and operate …
    What we lacked was autonomous distribution of said material; the internet has provided that, no longer requiring distributing ‘gatekeepers’ like the local TV station (‘film at eleven’) or national networks and their programming (FHV et al) to put material before the public’s eyeballs.
    .

  38. Mike McMillan says:
    August 28, 2010 at 7:09 am
    Gerald Machnee says: August 27, 2010 at 8:29 pm
    Rotation on the Hawaii one appears to be clockwise. I cannot tell which way the Brazil one is rotating.
    Northern hemisphere tornadoes rotate counterclockwise, opposite the direction of the Hawaiian video.
    Southern hemisphere tornadoes rotate clockwise, but the Brazilian one is rotating counterclockwise. Araçatuba is 21°S, so it, too, is rotating the ‘wrong’ direction.
    Coriolis effect over small areas and short time spans is far too weak to set rotation direction for fire tornadoes (and bathtub drains). The direction for these is set by whichever turbulent swirl is present when the updraft is strong enough to self sustain.
    ===============================
    There are a small percentage of tornados (real tornados) that rotate in an anticyclonic fashion.
    http://il.youtube.com/watch?v=B6QTLMj2Fe0
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anticyclonic_tornado
    Chris
    Norfolk, VA, USA

  39. Mike and BC are quite correct. I was part of the extreme fire behavior cadre of instructors. Fire whirls (like dust devils behind a large truck) occur regularly when wind travels around a large enough obstruction to impart rotation.

  40. please try to stop killing innocent people with your bloody machines allah will b mercy on u other wise it will get worst and worst so you people will burn in this world and also in hell ….

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