Heat from California’s Creek Fire is creating dangerous thunderhead clouds rising over 45,000 feet high.
The wildfire has already scorched 163,138 acres in its five days of burning through Sierra National Forest. It’s been generating weather, which is in turn is fueling its growth.
Imagery from NOAA’s GOES-17 satellite is showing just how big the Creek Fire thunderhead got.
These wildfire-created thunderhead clouds, or pyrocumulonimbus clouds, occur because the fire-heated air rises and carries water vapor up, causing the thunderheads. Common sense would suggest rain clouds would help firefighters knock down the blaze.
But the rain creates wind that gives more oxygen to fuel the fire and can cause it to jump fire lines.
Thunderheads are also well known for their lightning, which can create new fires.