Here’s a couple of pretty cool videos heading in to the weekend:
Unlike sharknados, “fire tornados” actually exist. As explained by Slate’s Phil Plait, the phenomenon is the result of a whirlwind’s forming around an ongoing fire and drawing force from the flame. A more detailed description:
As the air is heated above the fire, it rises, and the upward motion can be very strong. This leaves a lower pressure spot at the fire, and the air from outside the fire rushes in to fill the gap. The air is very turbulent, and as the inward-moving air from one side hits air coming in from the other, swirls can form. These get amplified by the constant gale of air, and rotation on a larger scale can get started and sustained. The whirlwind gets pumped by the hot air rising, and the next thing you know you’ve got a full-blown tornado of fire.
Technically, fire tornados are not tornados, but they’re cool nonetheless. The first video is from Colorado; the second from Australia.