Holy Fire Firenado

October 03, 2018

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October 2018 Viewer's ChoicePhotographer: Mark Ritter 
Summary Authors: Mark Ritter; Jim Foster

The photos above show a fire tornado as observed during the Holy Fire in Southern California last month. They were taken from near Lake Elsinore on day 3 of the huge Holy Fire, which was started by an arsonist and consumed more than 23,000 acres (9,300 hectares). This funnel of fire and smoke stretched several hundred feet above a charred hillside. Sometimes called firenadoes they're more akin to dust devils than to tornadoes. Superheated air and not vertical wind shear and release of latent heat are thought to fuel them. Though not uncommon in large fires, they're not easy to photograph. This one was captured on August 8, 2018.

Photo Details: Top - Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark III; Software: Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Classic 7.4 (Macintosh); Exposure Time: 0.0003s (1/3200); Aperture: ƒ/7.1; ISO equivalent: 640; Focal Length: 600.0mm; Lens: TAMRON SP 150-600mm. Bottom - same except: Exposure Time: 0.0003s (1/3200); Aperture: ƒ/6.3; ISO equivalent: 1600.