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10 Ways the Earth Is Trying to Kill You


5
Dragon Twists
A fire tornado in Yorba Linda, California in 2008 © David McNew/Getty Images
A fire tornado in Yorba Linda, California in 2008 © David McNew/Getty Images

The Japanese call them dragon twists. Hollywood types might prefer something flashier, like "firenado." But no matter the name, fire tornadoes are among the most visually stunning ways that Earth is trying to send you into the great beyond.

Fire tornadoes happen when small vortices are paired with a ground fire. Swirling vortices occur when hot rising air crashes into areas of cooler, low pressure air. These situations cause dust devils, which are basically smaller and much less dangerous versions of tornadoes.

However, when you pair a dust devil with a fire, things get serious in a hurry. The flames will actually swirl upward, creating a spinning funnel of flame that can scorch anything (or anyone) that happens to be nearby. Compared to full-blown tornadoes, dragon twists are smaller, but they're fast and can quickly change directions. Nearby buildings or vehicles may ignite, causing all sorts of perilous situations for civilians and first responders alike.