The world's first confirmed case of a fire tornado has been documented by Canberra researchers, using evidence collected from the devastating 2003 Canberra bushfires.
Researchers have long speculated about the ability of a fire to produce a tornado, but until now they have not been able to scientifically prove it.
The study involved collecting a vast quantity of evidence from the Canberra bushfires and has been published in the scientific journal Natural Hazards.
Lead researcher Rick McRae says the fire tornado formed in the ranges west of Canberra before pushing into the city's suburbs.
"The one that we looked at showed that as it approached the edge of Canberra, its basal diameter was nearly half a kilometre, and the damage indicates that the horizontal wind speeds around it were in excess of 250 kilometres per hour," he said.
"There is also a vertical wind in it at 150kph."
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