Posted on Categories Discover Magazine
It’s that time of year. Sixty-five wildfires — 20 of them new — are blazing in the United States across some 1,100 square miles of land.
For the year to date, 32,737 fires have scorched more than 5,400 square miles — an area equivalent to the Los Angeles metropolitan area, and then some. In terms of acreage, that’s about 30 percent ahead of the year-to-date average for the previous ten years. (For the latest statistics, see the National Interagency Fire Center.)
More than a dozen wildfires are making headlines in California today, including two that have exploded in size in the southern part of the state.
The Alamo fire burning in San Luis Obispo County has consumed 28,926 acres as of this morning. That’s about twice the size of Manhattan.
A little to the south is the Whittier Fire in the Santa Ynez Mountains not far from Santa Barbara. It has burned 10,823 acres. “The combination of old, dry fuels with a newly cured heavy grass crop contributed to the rapid growth of this fire,” according to a morning update from InciWeb, an inter-agency incident information system.
The new GOES-16 weather satellite watched as both blazes blossomed. See above for an animation showing the growth of the smoke plumes from those fires.
Two thousand miles to the north, another satellite captured the arresting view above of smoke from wildfires burning in far northern Canada juxtaposed with sea ice in the nearby Beaufort Sea.
Farther south, hundreds of wildfires in British Columbia have prompted evacuation orders for more than 10,000 people. In part due to lightning activity, 140 new fires broke out last Friday, and another 100 on Saturday.