Firenadoes: We’re Not In Kansas Anymore

In case massive, destructive wildfires don’t already make you nervous, here’s something new: fires that burn so hot and fast they become tornadoes. Yes, firenadoes are real, and they are not as rare as you want them to be.

For all of earth’s long and wild history, fire has played a major role on the planet. It shapes and reshapes landscapes, destroying the old and making way for the new. But human activity has broken the pattern, and now fires that burn hotter and bigger are reshaping something else: the weather.

Fire tornadoes are awesome but deadly, and the best fire scientists in the world are trying to figure out how to predict – and eventually, prevent – this demonstration of earth’s sheer, explosive power.

Featured Video:

Watch the incredible footage below to see a firenado filmed by Chris Tangey in the Australian outback near Uluru:


Kate Morgan is a journalist whose work has appeared in the New York Times, The Washington Post, SIERRA, Popular Science and many other publications.

Chris Tangey is an international award winning cinematographer and one of the most sought after aerial and drone cinematographers in the world. He is the Owner of Alice Springs Film and Television based in the very center of the Australian outback. His Firenado footage generated international headlines including appearances on Good Morning America and the The Today Show

Amanda Cunningham is the Fire-Meteorologist for the state of Minnesota and a Type 11 Firefighter (Smoke Chaser). Since 2011 she has traveled across the US providing on-site forecasts and fire weather support to the US Forest Service for large and complex fires. She was a 12-year vetern of the National Weather Service before starting Eagle FIre Weather, a consulting company that provides fire weather and fire behavior forecasting services and educational programs around the world.

Jason Forthofer is a US Forest Service Wildland Firefighter and Mechanical Engineer at the Missoula Fire Sciences Laboratory, one of the world’s leading wildland fire research centers. Jason’s research involves numerical, field and laboratory studies of heat transfer and fluid flow relating to wildland fires. He is the technical developer of WindWizard and technical developer/ programmer of WindNinja, groundbreaking new fire behavior and management tools.

Have a video or story you want us to consider for a future episode, or any questions or comments?

Contact us here.

Production Credits

This episode of the Roaring Earth podcast was written and produced by Kate Morgan. Casey O’Brien was the associate producer. Sound engineering and original music was provided by Joe Bussiere. Jan Renner and Glen Hoffman are the executive producers.