A firestorm that sprung from a devastating 2003 bushfire in Canberra, Australia, has been called the world's first confirmed case of a fire tornado.
The twister packed horizontal winds "in excess of 250 km/h [155 mph]" with vertical speeds "at 150 km/h [90-95 mph]", the Australian ABC News website said.
"Our analysis indicates that the tornado had a rating of at least a two on the enhanced Fujita scale of tornado severity," lead researcher Rick McRae said, quoted by ABC.
A wind speed above 155 mph is marginal between F-2 and F-3 on the Fujita-Pearson tornado intensity scale.
McRae, of the Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre, made the distinction between fire whirls, which are fairly common, and this full-blown tornado, which was apparently anchored to a parent thunderstorm.
The tornado had a basal diameter of "nearly half a kilometer [third of a mile]" as it neared the outskirts of Canberra.
Pine plantations were felled, houses were unroofed and cars were blown of the road, according to McRae.
The fire claimed the lives of 4 people and destroyed 491 houses.
Video credit: col05au/YouTube.com
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While a surge in warmth and humidity will lead to downpours and gusty storms in the northeastern United States into early Saturday, much cooler air will soon follow.
A magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck off the coast of Guatemala around 6:31 a.m. Thursday (8:31 a.m. EDT), the U.S. Geological Survey reports.
Even though Cindy is inland and weakening, the risk of flooding and severe thunderstorms will continue along the central Gulf Coast and part of the interior South.
Cindy made landfall early Thursday morning along the border of Texas and Louisiana.
The longest heat wave in more than 20 years in the United Kingdom peaked on Wednesday with temperatures again topping 32 C (90 F) in parts of southern England.
Effects from Tropical Storm Cindy have been felt across the southern United States.
Cindy will continue to release torrential rainfall and raise the risk of flooding even as the storm pushes well inland over the United States into this weekend.