Here's What California's Thick Blanket of Wildfire Smoke Looks Like From Orbit

Illustration for article titled Heres What Californias Thick Blanket of Wildfire Smoke Looks Like From Orbit

NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, or MODIS, records what’s happening on the surface of the Earth every day or two. That means recording dust storms, hurricanes, typhoons—and, as was the case this week, a thick layer of smoke over California.


This image was captured on Monday, and shows brown smoke drifting over the coastline of northern California—where multiple fires are burning right now. Most of these fires were caused not by humans, but by lightning strikes on July 30th, according to InciWeb. How can a state beset by drought have so much lightning? According to the California Weather blog, thunderstorms caused by “upper-level” moisture over the Pacific dropped a tiny bit of moisture but enough lightning to spur many, many new fires. It’s an unlucky even for a state already struggling with wildfire season.

Illustration for article titled Heres What Californias Thick Blanket of Wildfire Smoke Looks Like From Orbit

NASA actually maintains a specific site dedicated to images of “Fire & Smoke,” pulling high-res satellite data on areas of the West Coast and the world at large from MODIS. You can check it out here.


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I was in San Diego at the time of the wildfires in 2007-ish and it was horribly scary, you had nowhere to go but towards the beach and it was crazy packed. People got evacuated from many inland areas. We were in Rancho Santa Fe and literally loaded a van and took everythning of value/memories and got the hell out minutes after a reverse 911 call. Luckily three days later we could come bac and the place was still standing but TRASHED, palm fronds everyhere, ash on everything pool and jaccuzzi muddy etc etc it took days to clean it all up.....It was a place (Ranch) my parents caretook and the owners were in Dallas so we just grabbed their most valuable art and belongings and photobooks etc and the dog and got the hell out and they (parents) came to live with us for three days a bit further West of the fire and we still had to wear masks for days, I’d lived through only one other freightening thng where you felt either helpless or the unknown had you stressed and that was Mt St Helens in 1980. We were in Moses Lake at that time and it literally buried the city far more than most cities who made the news because the ash went up and wind carried it for miles anduntil it fell. It looked like it was snowing and was pitch black at 2 in the afternoon. We had to put sprinklers in the street to keep ash down, wear masks etc and it was for WEEKS if not months of Mother nature is powerful.