Updated: Oct 12, 2020
Fires in Southern California created a flammagenitus which was visible in Long Beach this weekend, many miles away from the fires. This phenomenon is also known as a pyrocumulus cloud or fire cloud. This isn't a regular cloud or just smoke. So what is it? Well, the intense heat from the fire causes the air mass to rise and as the fire burns trees and plants it causes the water inside them to evaporate into the air as well. This additional moisture in the atmosphere condenses in the cooler air above creating a huge (and noticeably different) cloud structure in the sky. These pyrocumulous clouds can also create lighting and other components of a classic thunderstorm due to the rapid increase in moisture in the atmosphere.
Fires are fairly common, though never welcome, in California and especially in Southern California. One of the unfortunate side effects of California getting more rain the last couple years is an increase in fires. Wetter and longer winters allow for brush to grow more rapidly and hardily creating ideal kindling for wildfires. Once a fire gets started, it can result in destruction of both the natural and man-made world, leaving destruction in it's path. However these fires, as destructive as they are, are part of the ecosystem that creates the biome known as the Chaparral Biome. This biome is characterized by brush and low bushes and high fire risk in late summer and early fall. In fact, fire is such a common occurrence in the Chaparral Biome that some species of plants actually rely on the seasonal fires to release their seeds from a protective encasement. Without the fires, the plant can't procreate. This demonstrates an incredibly long evolutionary relationship between fire, plant life, and this biome.
No matter how natural or common these wild fires are in Southern California, it doesn't make them any less heatbreaking or devistating to those that deal with their indescrimate desire to burn anything in their path. They can last for days or even weeks and displace human and animal life alike. It's definitley a reminder to love harder, love stronger, and make sure the people you love know it!!!