Beware blazing fires and whirling winds. When two of nature’s fiercest foes strike at the same time, they create firenadoes (“fire tornadoes”). Twisting flames leap high into the air in a dangerous spectacle that can quickly get out of hand.
If hot air moves rapidly towards cooler air, it can generate a spiralling vortex (whirlwind). This can happen during a storm, causing a tornado. But a fiercely burning fire can create the same effect, with the added element of flames. These firenadoes do not usually last long, but they can be very destructive, hurling burning ashes over a broad area.
Tornado-like conditions can be created by a raging bush fire. When violent updraughts generated by the fire meet cooler air above, the air starts to spin, forming a funnel.
Fire and combustible gases are sucked up and fuelled by oxygen in the funnel’s centre. The funnel turns into a jet of flame – a firenado.