Natural Hazards

, Volume 65, Issue 3, pp 1801–1811 | Cite as

An Australian pyro-tornadogenesis event

  • Richard H. D. McRae
  • Jason J. Sharples
  • Stephen R. Wilkes
  • Alan Walker
Original Paper

Abstract

On 18 January 2003, fires had a devastating impact on Australia’s capital, Canberra. A series of reviews and scientific studies have examined the events of that day and indicate that the worst impacts were due to a series of violent pyro-convective events and resultant pyro-cumulonmibi. These coupled fire–atmosphere events are much more energetic than normal fires. In one instance, an intense pyro-convective cell developed a tornado. We demonstrate that this was indeed a tornado, the first confirmed pyro-tornadogenesis in Australia, and not a fire whirl. Here, we discuss aspects of the formation, evolution and decay of the tornado, which was estimated to have been of at least F2 intensity, highlighting a process that can significantly increase the damage of a wildfire event.

Keywords

Pyro-tornadogenesis Pyro-cumulonimbus Tornado Wildfire 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard H. D. McRae
    • 1
  • Jason J. Sharples
    • 2
  • Stephen R. Wilkes
    • 3
  • Alan Walker
    • 1
  1. 1.Australian Capital Territory Emergency Services AgencyMajuraAustralia
  2. 2.Applied and Industrial Mathematics Research Group, School of Physical, Environmental and Mathematical SciencesUniversity of New South Wales at the Australian Defence Force AcademyCanberraAustralia
  3. 3.Australian Capital Territory Parks and Conservation ServiceStromloAustralia

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