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Update: Woman dies in Alexandria apartment fire

From fire to cloud

A fire can create its own weather.  

Stan Goldade took this picture 20 miles north of Breckenridge, Minnesota, today. It appeared someone was burning a CRP field.

The smoke plume shot straight up forming a cloud.  How can fire turn to cloud?  

First of all, it is a very calm day so there is very little wind shear to break up the smoke plume.  Secondly, air cools as it rises, even if the air is hot and coming off an open flame.  

Rising air undergoes a reduction in density as the air pressure around lowers with increasing altitude.  Eventually, if not sheared away by winds, the column of air reaches the point where it has cooled enough for moisture to condense into water drops.  In other words, the humidity turns to cloud.

John Wheeler

John was born in Baton Rouge, LA, and grew up near Birmingham, Alabama. As a teenager, his family moved to Madison, Wisconsin, and later to a small town in northeast Iowa. John traces his early interest in weather to the difference in climate between Alabama and Wisconsin. He is a graduate of Iowa State University with a degree in meteorology. Like any meteorologist, John is intrigued by extremes of weather, especially arctic air outbreaks and winter storms.  John has been known to say he prefers his summers to be hot but in winter, he prefers the cold.  When away from work, John enjoys long-distance running and reading.  John has been a meteorologist at WDAY since May of 1985.

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