Pine Gulch Fire creates lightning and pyrocumulus cloud

North of Grand Junction, Colorado

Lightning on the Pine Gulch Fire
Lightning on the Pine Gulch Fire at 12:47 a.m. MDT August 19, 2020. Image by Grand Junction NSW. White text and arrows added by Wildfire Today.

The Pine Gulch Fire 15 miles north of Grand Junction, Colorado created its own weather very early this morning. It took a combination of several factors, including low relative humidity, an unstable atmosphere, plenty of available fuels (vegetation), and strong outflow winds from a thunderstorm to the north that blew through the fire area between 10:20-10:30 p.m. This caused the fire to increase in intensity and the development of a very large pyrocumulus cloud over the smoke column that created lightning.

Here is the tweet from the National Weather Service that accompanied the image above:

lightning fire Grand Junction Pine Gulch

The Weather Service said the lightning lasted for hours and Grand Junction residents could hear the thunder.

Below is map of the fire showing the perimeter at 1:49 a.m MDT August 19, 2020.

map Pine Gulch Fire
The red line on the map was the perimeter of the Pine Gulch Fire at 1:58 a.m. MDT August 19, 2020. The white line was the perimeter three days before.

The Pine Gulch Fire grew by 37,899 acres on August 18, bringing size up to 125,108 acres.

The Garfield County Sheriff issued new evacuation orders for the northwest side of the Pine Gulch fire August 19.

  • From the Mesa County line north to the east/west Colorado Highway 256 (Four A Ridge Road) including north/south CO Hwy 256. 256/205 moving from pre-evacuation to full evacuation.
  • From Highway 139 Douglas Pass road east to the preexisting evacuation order for Carr Creek Road (207).
  • This includes CO Hwy 205 Salt Wash and Kimball Creek Road (202) on Kimball Mountain.
  • CO Hwy 258/King Road is evacuated.
Pine Gulch Fire
Pine Gulch Fire Tuesday night, August 18, 2020. InciWeb.

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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.