Tuesday, May 24, 2022

This fierce forest fire gave rise to a powerful storm

Saturday, May 7th, 2022, 4:47 PM – A wildfire near Fort Lauderdale, Florida, produced several heavy thunderstorms, producing hail and blizzards just off the coast.

Thunderstorms often cause forest fires, but it’s not every day that you see wildfires in thunderstorms.

The heat of fires spreading across southeastern Florida triggered a cluster of strong thunderstorms off the coast on Saturday, prompting the US National Weather Service to issue a special maritime warning for boats in the area.

Forecasters warned that thunderstorms were capable of producing waterlogging, strong winds and small hail.

Weather radar imagery on Saturday afternoon showed smoke rising from the eastern Everglades. Westerly winds carried smoke and warm air offshore over the Atlantic Ocean, where instability gave rise to several strong thunderstorms.

Drought conditions and continued drought in southern Florida created favorable conditions for several wildfires to increase this week.

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Broward and Palm Beach counties reported three major wildfires in the Eastern Everglades. Combined, the blazes have consumed nearly 10,000 hectares of land, and state officials report that the fire is about 50 percent contained.

Florida Fire

Strong wildfires often generate pyrocumulonimbus clouds below the most intense flames. Full blooming of these billowing updrafts is not uncommon, especially when conditions are moderately favorable for convection in the region.

A major wildfire over the Texas Panhandle in May 2018 triggered a severe thunderstorm that moved several dozen kilometers away to produce large hail and destructive winds.

Fire-induced thunderstorms don’t always rain. Lightning in these dry thunderstorms could spread more wildfires—a situation we saw with the 2016 fire at Fort McMurray, Alberta, as well as the devastating wildfires in British Columbia last summer.

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thumbnail courtesy of NOAA

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Nation World News Desk
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