March 1st, 2024

University researchers confirm fire-generated tornado over B.C. lake in viral video

By The Canadian Press on December 23, 2023.

Researchers at Western University say they've confirmed that a fire-generated tornado occurred in British Columbia this summer after a video of the "rarely observed" event went viral back in August. A hot spot from the Lower East Adams Lake wildfire burns in Scotch Creek, B.C., on Sunday, August 20, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

LONDON, Ont. – Researchers at Western University say they’ve confirmed that a fire-generated tornado occurred in British Columbia this summer after a video of the “rarely observed” event went viral back in August.

In a blog post, researchers from the university’s Northern Tornadoes Project say they began an extensive investigation after the video was posted showing an “intense vortex” over Gun Lake in southwest B.C. during a “raging nighttime wildfire.”
They say the investigation was very careful because it’s the first case of a fire-generated tornado recorded by the research team at the Northern Tornadoes Project.

The post says the investigation involved the help of witnesses, and they were able to pinpoint the time and location of the fire tornado on Gun Lake’s north shore around 4:45 a.m. on Aug. 18.

Researchers say terminology around the phenomenon is “still developing,” but clarified that the Gun Lake occurrence was an “actual tornado” rather than a short-lived, so-called “fire whirl.”

The Northern Tornadoes Project says the “pyro-tornado” is the first documented by the project, which was established in 2017, and may be the “most thoroughly documented” example in Canada to date.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 23, 2023.

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