Massive pyrocumulus cloud over Australian bushfire produces hundreds of lightning strikes

Timbarra bushfire
Massive pyrocumulus cloud over a bushfire north of Timbarra, Victoria, Australia. TRFM photo.

Extreme heat on Friday in Victoria, Australia combined with strong winds and low humidity caused a bushfire 10 km (6 miles) north of Timbarra to grow from 300 hectares (740 acres) to approximately 10,522 hectares (26,000 acres). Lighting ignited the fire on January 16 and in an odd twist, extreme fire behavior Friday created hundreds of lightning strikes around a massive pyrocumulus cloud that rose to 38,000 feet while igniting additional fires.

The temperature at the top of the cloud was -55°C (-67°F) according to the Victoria Bureau of Meteorology.

Friday evening the weather changed substantially, bringing in cool, moist air that slowed the spread of the fire. Officials say due to the size and difficult topography, it will be weeks before it can be completely contained.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire. Google+

One thought on “Massive pyrocumulus cloud over Australian bushfire produces hundreds of lightning strikes”

  1. For folks interested in these pyro clouds: Usually lightning and cloud top temperatures below -40C indicate a pyrocumulonimbus cloud, which is a comparatively rare form of pyro cloud compared to pyrocumulus https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cumulonimbus_flammagenitus_(cloud)
    A group of scientists led by Mike Fromm at the Naval Research Lab monitors the planet for these rare clouds. They have a yahoo group “pyroCb” that includes a number of global fire people.

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