May 9, 2014 1:07 pm

Firenado? Unlike a sharknado, it’s a real thing

A fire tornado comes close to homes during the Corona Fire on November 2008.

David McNew/Getty Images

Check out this cool phenomenon that a Missouri woman witnessed on May 4:

Janae Copelin photographed this "firenado" in Missouri.

Janae Copelin

Janea Copelin posted the image to Instagram saying that she snapped the photo after she pulled over to watch a farmer burning off his field. But soon the winds whipped up, creating this “firenado.”

Though it may seem like something nightmares are made of, a firenado is a real natural phenomenon.

WATCH: Listen to the sound of a firenado as firefighters in Hawaii battle fire

A firenado, or fire whirl, is borne of the same ingredients as a tornado, more or less (putting aside the severe storms needed to produce tornadoes). Hot air at the base of the fire rises quickly through a cooler pocket of air, whipping up a vortex, or a swirling column of air. Unlike true tornadoes, a fire whirl begins on the ground.
There is also a difference between a fire whirl and an actual fire tornado.

A fire tornado, or pyro-tornadogenesis, is an actual tornado created by a fire conditions. It was first confirmed by researchers in Australia in 2012 using data from a fire in 2003.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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