McKinney fire has hit the stratosphere, spewing the ‘fire-breathing dragon of clouds’
A fire big enough to make its own lightning used to be as rare as it sounds. But the McKinney fire, which erupted Friday [ in the Klamath National Forest], generated four separate thunder and lightning storms within its first 24 hours alone. … The troposphere is where weather happens, and where eye-searing clouds of smoke and soot circulate even from moderately sized fires. But when a smoke column such as those emanating from the McKinney fire shoots through that layer and enters the stratosphere — the higher, more stable layer above — it creates havoc with local weather and seeds the Earth’s atmosphere with aerosol pollutants whose consequence science is still sorting out.