Raging Texas wildfires spotted by NASA satellites

Raging Texas wildfires spotted by NASA satellites

12 April 2011

published by www.examiner.com

USA — Extreme drought conditions across the nation’s southern tier states have led to dozens of wildfires with Texas having seen over 600 square miles of land burned by fires in the past seven days alone. NASA satellites recently made passes over the Lone Star State and the scorched land and smoke are clearly seen from their perch high above the Earth.

Firefighters in Texas have been battling the wind-fed blazes in recent weeks and their fast movement has largely prevented any real gains from being made against the fiery beasts. Reinforcements are streaming in from out of state to assist local forces and bring the fires under control.

NASA’s Terra satellite has been monitoring the fires using its Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS). The instrument allows NASA satellites to map fires from their perch 22,000 miles in space. These images aid efforts on the ground by providing important information on the advancement of the blazes.

The Rock House Fire burning in Presidio and Jeff Davis counties now is at 108,000 acres. The satellite imagery clearly shows the extent of the burning of the blaze as well as the Brewster Fire burning nearby. Other imagery shows the Killough Fire and Swenson Fire as well as blazes burning in northern Mexico.

According to the Texas Forest Service, 78 fires have burned 385,098 acres (601 square miles) in just the past seven days. Twelve new fires have erupted in the past 24 hours alone, one of which – the Encino Fire – exploded to 11,000 acres.

The entire state of Texas is experiencing drought conditions and while the winds have subsided in recent days, little relief is expected. NOAA climatologists rated much of the state at ‘extreme’ and ‘exceptional’ drought, the two highest levels.

Drought conditions are affecting other states in the southern half of the United States as well. Extreme conditions are reported in parts of seven other states.

In Colorado, much of the eastern half of the state is experiencing severe drought. One fire in the southeastern part of the state has burned 11 square miles and numerous smaller fires have been seen in the mountains.

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