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Thomas fire creating its own weather, expert says

In a phenomenon only seen during the biggest wildfires, the massive Thomas fire burning  through Ventura and Santa Barbara counties has been creating its own weather for the past two days, an expert said.
Addressing residents at a community meeting at San Marcos High School in Santa Barbara, Ventura County Fire Department Capt. Brendan Ripley, a fire behavior analyst, explained how the powerful wildfire, which had scorched more than 200,000 acres — or 312-square-miles — is not just dependent on the weather, but altering it.
Video: Thomas fire community meeting, Dec. 10
The massive smoke plume generated by the fire, also known as a pyrocumulus cloud, continues to rise, gathering heat energy from the flames below, Ripley said.
But the unstable column of air can collapse at any time, resulting in dramatic 180-degree wind shifts that pose a major danger to firefighters, he said.
This type of behavior is generally seen during massive wildfires.
It was observed during Los Angeles County’s Station fire in 2009, which became the largest wildfire in county history after it blackened more than 160,000 acres, or 250-square-miles.
Source: Oc Register

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