Fires in California

Fires in the USA

24 October 2007

Fires in San Diego, Southern California

Fueled by the powerful Santa Ana winds that whip from the hotinland desert to the cool Pacific Ocean, 12 large wildfires raged in Californiaon 23 October 2007. The fires clouded the air over the Pacific with dense plumesof smoke that stretched across hundreds of kilometers. The immensity of theevent is illustrated in the top photo-like image, captured by the ModerateResolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite on 23 October.The lower image shows a close-up view of the Witch Fire, burning between LosAngeles and San Diego. At the time the image was taken, the fire had burned145,000 acres, destroying hundreds of homes and commercial buildings, andthreatening thousands more, said the NationalInteragency Fire Center. Areas where MODIS detected a fire are outlined inred, though the dense smoke may have masked some of the flames from the sensor.

As the top image shows, the Witch Fire was not the only destructive fireburning in southern California. As of 23 October, fires from the Mexican borderto north of Los Angeles had burned more than 1,300 homes and forced more thanhalf a million people from their homes, reported CNN. Windy weather pushed the flames through brush and grass dried from drought.

23 October 2007

The large image provided above has a spatial resolution (level of detail) of250 meters per pixel.

(source: EarthObservatory)

Fires in Southern California

In what seemed like the blink of an eye, wildfires ignited inthe paper-dry, drought-stricken vegetation of Southern California over theweekend of 20 October 2007, and exploded into massive infernos that forcedhundreds of thousands of people to evacuate their communities. Driven by SantaAna winds, fires grew thousands of acres in just one to two days. The fires speddown from the mountains into the outskirts of coastal cities, including SanDiego. Dozens of homes have burned to the ground, and at least one person hasdied, according to local news reports. Several of the fires were burningcompletely out of control as of 22 October.

22 October 2007

This image of the fires in California was captured at 1:55 p.m. U.S. PacificDaylight Time on 22 October 2007. Places where MODIS detected actively burningfires are outlined in red. Thick streamers of smoke unfurl over the PacificOcean. The brownish plumes are clouds of dust. Fires northwest of Los Angelesseemed calmer at the time of this image than they were the previousday.

The drought in the Southwest throughout summer 2007 has been “extreme”according to the categories used by the U.S.Drought Monitor. Dry vegetation and Santa Ana winds, which can reachhurricane force as they race downslope from the deserts of the Great Basin andthrough narrow mountain passes, are often a devastating combination in SouthernCalifornia. According to the IncidentManagement Situation Report from the National Interagency Fire Center forOctober 22, Santa Ana winds were expected to continue through Wednesday.

The large image provided above has a spatial resolution (level of detail) of250 meters per pixel.

(source: EarthObservatory)

Latest MODIS image

This MODIS satellite image taken at 22 October/2055 UTC shows denseplumes of smoke from multiple wildfires in Southern California continue tospread over the Pacific Ocean and now extend over 500 nmi offshore.

(source: OSEI)

See also the latest news reports from the media:

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