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Wind Whips Up a 'Firenado' in a Field

NBC -- A Missouri woman captured this incredible photo of a phenomenon that has been dubbed a "firenado" while she was driving down a country road near the town of Chillicothe last weekend.
NBC -- A Missouri woman captured this incredible photo of a phenomenon that has been dubbed a "firenado" while she was driving down a country road near the town of Chillicothe last weekend.

"This had to be the coolest/scariest thing I've ever seen," Janae Copelin wrote on her Instagram page. "A farmer burning off his field and as we stopped so I could take a picture the wind whipped up this fire twister."

According to The Weather Channel, sights like this are more common than you might think:

Firewhirls turn and burn. They are rapidly spinning vortices that form when air superheated by an intense wildfire rises rapidly, consolidating low-level spin from winds converging into the fire like a spinning ice skater, pulling its arms inward.

The typical firewhirl can grow to about 100 feet tall, but is very narrow, on the order of a couple of feet wide.

Researchers in Australia documented the process of "pyro-tornadogenesis" for the first time after analyzing evidence collected during a wildfire in Canberra in January, 2003.
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