Monsoonal Weather Updates for Mountain Fire July 20, 2013
weatherunderground.com = Monsoonal Flow shift in Mountain Fire region
|NASA Earth Observatory|
|Cal-Fire Blog & El Toro Peak Webcam|
MOUNTAIN FIRE PYROCUMULUS PLUME
Numerous wildfires have been raging across southwestern United States this year and NASA satellite have the ability to capture images of a weather phenomena called pyrocumulus cloud which will often be seen towering above smoke from a brushfire. Pyrocumulus clouds are associated with fires or volcanic activity and they form when intense heat pushes air high into the atmosphere. These clouds which have taken shape this week over the Mountain Center Fire which is presently burning into several directions of the Sam Jacinto Mountains of Southern California. This weekend should prove to be unique in this weather phenomena occurrence with a wind shift coming from Mexico from the southeast bringing in monsoonal moisture which increases changes of Thunderstorms. This also could be potentially dangerous as dry lightning strikes with no accompanying rains have themselves have been creating many of these fires so far this year in many of the western states.
|CREDIT: NASA Earth Observatory|
NASA's Aqua satellite captured this image of Montana's Dugan Fire on Sept. 15, 2012. The fire formed towering Pyrocumulus clouds.
Pyrocumulus clouds are similar to those Summertime Thunderhead cumulus clouds we see over the southwest this time of year, but the heat that forces the air to rise (which leads to cooling and condensation of water vapor) comes from fire instead of sun-warmed ground. Add to that a deep monsoonal flow and we could see a potential for massive buildups. In NASA satellite images like the one above here, pyrocumulus cloud appear as opaque white patches hovering over darker smoke. These pyrocumulus clouds sometimes may help dampen fires by dumping rain on the flames. But they also can threaten to propel fires with stronger, erratic winds and can send smoke and pollutants high into the atmosphere, which can affect air quality over a broad area, depending on wind patterns. In this present Mountain Center Fire in the San Jacinto Mtns, if the winds shift from east to west, then such pollution issues will be a problem for the Inland Empire areas of Riverside and San Bernardino Counties and possibly beyond towards Los angeles. Watch the video below of some very kool time lapse pyrocumulus cloud formations from the 2009 "Station Wildfire" as seen from Los Angeles California.
The challenge for many of the onlookers these next few day when viewing from a safer distance is to capture some of these spectacular images for a recorded history of the 2013 Mountain Fire through photography. While we have already seen the extreme potential for pyrocumulus clouds in the build ups recorded so far with the various High Point and El Toro Peak Webcam images, this weekend's weather shift could potentially create some spectacular shots, especially with the fire's growth potential doubling or tripling every day so far. You just may be able to capture your own images such as the amazing ones below.
Carpenter1 Fire in Nevada on
July 4th Afternoon
The enormous pyrocumulus cloud that built over the heavy Station Fire burn to the north of Cogswell Dam
Here are some other circumstances under which Pyrocumulus Clouds may form.
|Credit: NASA Space Station|
A fortuitous orbit of the International Space Station allowed the astronauts this striking view of Sarychev Volcano (Kuril Islands, northeast of Japan) in an early stage of eruption on June 12, 2009.
|Image by Sigurdur H. Stefnisson|
Volcano Lightning over Iceland. This is another common occurrence of Pyrocumulus Cloud formations.
Oil Refinery discharge Chimney creating a
Other Helpful References:
National Geographic: "Fires Can Create "Volcanic" Thunderclouds"