Pyrocumulus clouds—sometimes called “fire clouds”—are tall, cauliflower-shaped, and appear as opaque white patches hovering over darker smoke in satellite imagery. Pyrocumulus clouds are similar to cumulus clouds, but the heat that forces the air to rise (which leads to cooling and condensation of water vapor) comes from fire instead of sun-warmed ground. Under certain circumstances, pyrocumulus clouds can produce full-fledged thunderstorms, making them pyrocumulonimbus clouds.
It’s another example of the beauty nature provides in disasters.
Bob Collins has been with Minnesota Public Radio since 1992, emigrating to Minnesota from Massachusetts. He was senior editor of news in the ’90s, ran MPR’s political unit, created the MPR News regional website, invented the popular Select A Candidate, started several blogs, and every day laments that his Minnesota Fantasy Legislature project never caught on.
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