SEATTLE (AP) – A wildfire-triggered thunderstorm in Washington has provided an unusual opportunity for scientists to fly through its clouds and take photos and measurements.
The Seattle Times reports information collected from Thursday’s flight could inform new research about wildfire-induced thunderstorms, which only recently have been studied in detail.
Philippe Papin, a postdoctoral atmospheric scientist at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, says such thunderstorms don’t produce much precipitation that reaches the ground but can create lightning strikes with potential to spark new fires.
Melinda Berman, a UCLA student involved in the research, says meteorological conditions must be just right to produce these storms.
The research is part of a project between NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration aimed at better understanding wildfire smoke’s impact on air quality and the climate.