Time-lapse camera records moment a passing thunderstorm changes spread direction of Hennessey Fire

Napa County, California

August 18, 2020 | 2:25 p.m. PDT

Hennessey Fire 13 miles north of Napa, California, August 17, 2020. Screenshot from the video below. This shows the smoke after the wind shift.

A time-lapse camera at Atlas Peak in Napa County, California recorded the moment a wind shift caused by a passing thunderstorm August 17, 2020 suddenly changed the direction the Hennessey Fire was spreading.

If firefighters find themselves in a situation where thunderstorms could influence the wind direction on a fire, they should ensure they are in a safe location. A passing thunderstorm changed the wind direction on the Yarnell Hill Fire June 30, 2013 entrapping and killing 19 firefighters.

(To see all of the articles on Wildfire Today about the lightning-caused wildfires in California, including the most recent, click HERE.)

As of August 18 the Hennessey Fire has burned 2,700 acres; 205 structures are threatened and evacuation orders are in place. Three structures have been destroyed.

Anyone having trouble viewing the video can see it a YouTube.

Thanks go out to @bbdd333 who made the raw video footage available to us.

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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.

One thought on “Time-lapse camera records moment a passing thunderstorm changes spread direction of Hennessey Fire”

  1. Dramatic footage Bill, thanks for that and the article. As a fire lookout on the San Juan NF in Colorado my job, and other lookout’s job all over the U.S., is more than spotting and locating smokes. Whether a small lightning caused, staffed wildfire or a controlled burn our job turns into weather observer and fire behavior observer. In the Colorado Rockies our weather can turn in minutes from calm and clear to violent weather cells with the outflow winds shown in the video. Fire lookouts spend a lot of time on the radio with ground resources that are in remote and vulnerable positions, giving them the intel to keep them safe. We’re cheap insurance for smoke detection and firefighter safety. Please promote paid, staffed Federal and State fire lookouts.


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