Buzz, Extreme Weather, Napa Valley, San Francisco, Science, Wildfires

Striking satellite images show smoke, heat from California wildfires


Fast-moving, destructive wildfires raced across parts of Napa and Sonoma County on Sunday night and Monday, fanned by strong winds and dry conditions. The fires exploded in size, with one, known as the Tubbs Fire, jumping from 200 acres on Sunday to 20,000 by Monday. 

According to the Associated Press, 1,500 structures have been destroyed by the blazes so far. The heat and smoke from these fires have been visible from space, as well as aircraft flying in the San Francisco Bay region. 

California Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in Napa, Sonoma, and Yuba Counties, with hundreds of firefighters rapidly deployed from city, state, and federal resources. The wildfires have spread so rapidly due to strong, dry offshore winds gusting up to 55 miles per hour overnight and into Monday morning. 

After a record wet winter, dry conditions during the past few months have ensured an abundant supply of dried out vegetation, which is serving as fuel for the flames. 

This satellite loop, also from Colorado State University via NOAA, shows the heat signature of the fires as red dots, plus the smoke plume moving offshore. 

Here’s the larger, still image version from that loop:

Heat signature (red dots) and smoke plumes from wildfires burning in Napa, Sonoma, and Yuba Counties in California.

Image: colorado state university/rammb/via noaa

Fire danger will remain extremely high for the rest of the day on Monday in this area, though winds are forecast to slacken during the afternoon and evening, which could aid firefighters battling these flames.

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