What’s a “firenado”?

FirenadoThe Week in Severe Weather

What’s a “firenado”? Just ask the residents of San Diego County, California, where wildfires have been raging since Tuesday and where several swirling vortexes of fire were spotted in photos from the front lines. A column of smoke and flames even made its ways through one San Marcos neighborhood at midday on Thursday.

“It’s just like a spinning column of flames,” National Weather Service forecaster Michael Watkins told the LA Times. Firenadoes, or “fire whirls” as they’re known in the science community, can burn fuel at a rate that’s three to seven times faster than an open flame.

As many as 14 wildfires burned in the San Diego area this week, according to Aon Benfield’s weekly natural disaster report, with early damage estimates already reaching $20 million. More than 125,000 evacuation notices were issued at the height of the fires. The Poinsettia Fire near Carlsbad destroyed eight homes, a condominium complex and two commercial buildings before being contained on Friday. In Texas, two people were killed by wildfires in the Panhandle region, where fire destroyed at least 225 homes.

Photo: Twitter/Marcus Smith

As of Friday, officials were starting to life evacuation orders is some affected areas in California and there were hopes that cooler, calmer weather over the weekend would stop the fires’ spread.

Severe weather continues in the East

Strong thunderstorms continued to ravage the Central and Eastern U.S. this week, injuring more than 10 people and causing widespread damage across 10 states. There were 60 local storm reports of tornadoes this week, as well as 330 reports of damaging winds and 348 reports of hail. Between May 10-15 “thousands” of structures were damaged, according to Aon Benfield, with economic losses in the 100s of millions.

Overseas, heavy rains in southern and eastern China this week caused widespread flooding and landslides across six provinces, killing at least three and doing an estimated US $316 million worth of damages. Some 12,000 structures were damaged or destroyed. And five were killed in Serbia and Bosnia after the heaviest rains the Balkan region has seen in 120 years destroyed thousands of structures and did millions worth of damage.

Source:  Property Casualty 360

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