Firefighters dealing with weather while fighting Australia wildfires

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As many of you know, right now, wildfires are raging through Australia.

They’ve burned millions of acres of land, killed an estimated 480 million animals and 25 people. Now firefighters in Australia are also facing the challenge of the weather.

“No fire’s the same. Different fires react different ways, whether it’s structural or wildland,” Kris Short with Task Force 1, Inc., said.

One of the major factors that can sway a fire’s growth and movement is weather.

“Humidity, wind, cloud cover, Austin Bogart, USFS Hotshot said.

High humidity and low wind speed can help crews contain a fire faster, but if those factors change, “all it’s gonna take is one little swoop wind and that’s it. It’ll take out crews upon crews of firemen,” Short said.

But on the flipside, sometimes the weather can actually be determined by the fire itself. Fires as big and as strong as those in Australia right now actually have the ability to create their own weather.

One of the ways this happens is with the enormous smoke plumes from the fires. Those plumes rise and then cool to form pyro-cumulonimbus clouds or cumulonimbus clouds that have been created from fire and smoke. In the correct, unstable atmosphere, those clouds can evolve into thunderstorms, which of course, contain lighting.

The lighting from those storms can then strike the already-dry brush on the ground, causing more fires to spring up and creating an even more devastating situation in Australia right now.

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