The fires currently searing through the Australian bush between Lithgow and Bilpin could create an unusual cloud formation known as a ‘Fire Cloud’ or pyrocumulus, predict fire analysts. The unique weather phenomenon only forms when areas of intense heat, such as bush fires or volcanoes, meet with an unstable atmosphere.

As fires burn, the hot air generated rises in a huge column upwards, with the space underneath being filled by cooler air, a process producing a convection column. The hot-air columns created can be extremely large and can rise high into the atmosphere carrying a large amounts of water vapour – one of the main combustion products of fire.
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UPDATE – If you watched the evening news anytime during the past two weeks, you saw images of forest fires roaring through suburban neighborhoods in California. Does global warming have anything to do with this? UPDATE: Thanks to lower winds and the tireless efforts of firefighters, the California fires are finally winding down. Can a wildfire ever put ITSELF out? In theory it could, but it’s unlikely.

LiveScience.com reports that fires give off heat and hot air rises. When it hits the cooler air above it, the water in the air condenses into cumulus clouds. These COULD turn into thunderstorms, releasing enough water to put out the fire that created them.
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It’s wildfire season again in California and the West. Researchers have developed a new way to predict when vegetation dries to the point it is most vulnerable to large-scale fires in the Santa Monica Mountains near Los Angeles. This year’s forecast says the highest-risk fire period will begin July 13?weeks earlier than usual.

Despite that, the new study also shows that unlike other areas of the western United States, global warming has not caused any apparent long-term trend toward early fire seasons in the Santa Monicas.

The scientists eventually hope to expand their unique fire-risk forecasting method to all of Southern California and beyond.
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