Experts expected the fire to die down with the cool night air. Instead, it flared into an inferno. Here’s the likely culprit.
A) The Tub Spills
At night, cool dense air pools in the Valles Grande caldera like water filling a 13-mile bathtub. When it sloshes over, it creates 26-foot-per-second winds that fly downcanyon and strike the wildfire’s southern flank.
B) Canyon Surf
As they squeeze through the canyons radiating from the caldera, the winds gain speed, then rise above the ground and come crashing back like churning ocean waves.
C) Fire Explodes
As the wind ignites the blaze, it drives the fire forward in 35-foot flames that look like rolling barrels of fire.