A dramatic video recorded in British Columbia, Canada shows a swirling waterspout spinning across the water while a massive wildfire scorches the landscape in the background.
According to the FOX Forecast Center, a cold front swept through the Lillooet, Canada, area last week, following several days of hot and dry weather.
The waterspout was filmed in the pre-dawn hours of Aug. 18 in the Gun Lake area by firefighters working on the Downton Lake fire.
With the intense heat from the wildfire as an added component to the lift of the cold front, wind in the atmosphere began to twist and led to the development of the waterspout.
The British Columbia Wildfire Service described the phenomenon on X, formerly known as Twitter, as a fire whirl.
A fire whirl is a vortex of smoke and flames that form when intense heat and turbulent winds combine, creating a spinning column of fire that resembles a tornado.
But based on additional analysis, the FOX Forecast Center instead believes the twister was a waterspout.
“The video seems to suggest that smoke/gas and water are being whirled around as the base of the vortex, but there appears to be more water than smoke,” FOX Weather senior meteorologist Jordan Overton said. “It’s possible this originated as a tornado over the shore and then moved over water. This was likely caused due to the extreme differences in temperatures driven by the wildfire.”
Overton continued that there was little evidence in the video showing actual flames being lifted into the vortex, which increases the confidence that this was in fact a tornado or waterspout rather than a fire whirl.
“It’s highly possible (and likely) that this was a true fire whirl in its initial stages,” Overton said. “But further examination of the video itself at that snapshot in time would suggest what we are seeing in the video is a waterspout tornado with a mixture of smoke and gas.”
What is a waterspout?
A fair-weather waterspout is one that develops over the open water and forms at the surface of the water and rise upward in association with the warm water and high humidity in the lower portion of the atmosphere.
This type of waterspout is generally brief and less dangerous than a tornadic waterspout.
A tornadic waterspout typically begins as a true tornado that was spawned by a thunderstorm over land and moves out over the open water.
Wildfires scorching Canada for months
Massive wildfires have been raging across Canada for months, and have so far scorched more than 13 million hectares (32 million acres), according to Canada’s National Wildland Fire Situation Report.
Those wildfires burning in Canada have also led to days of unhealthy air quality levels in the US, including in June when places like New York City experienced their worst air quality on record.