Missouri woman catches 'firenado' in dramatic Instagram photo

Move over, shark. There’s a new name in the –nado family: firenado.

The latest neologism combines fire with the suffix that comes from tornado -- the spinning, furious vortex that can topple houses and toss vehicles like sticks in a deadly path of destruction.

Thus a “firenado” is a whirling pillar of fire.

Janae Copelin, a Missouri woman, captured a photo of the weather phenomenon this week -- a firenado rising out of a burning field -- and posted the evidence to her Instagram account.

The firenado was brief, she told KMBC-TV, but its heat and roar “were intense and a bit scary.” Copelin was driving by the field near Chillicothe, Mo., which was being burned off, and stopped for a photo of the fire. Strong winds whipped up the firenado.

National Geographic reported in 2012 that the brief whirlwinds of flame are not that rare but aren't often documented. The weather phenomenon occurs when fire is swept into a vortex by strong winds, according to Accuweather.

Of course, the concept of a pillar of fire is as old as the Old Testament, in which God appears in such a form to the Israelites. According to Exodus, it is a pillar of fire that guides the liberated Israelite slaves across the desert to freedom.

Extreme weather of another sort was the problem Friday in parts of Texas, where residents were cleaning up from fierce storms, with winds of as much as 70 mph and large hail, that struck overnight. In western Arkansas, more than a half a foot of rain fell in a 24-hour period, sending creeks and streams overflowing.

The National Weather Service warned that more severe thunderstorms could occur through the day from northern Texas into the Ohio Valley.