The intense fires in California and Oregon are having a huge effect on visibility and air quality across large parts of the country as thick blankets of wildfire smoke are being blown west to east.
Thanks to a stubborn ridge of high pressure that has brought soaring, fire-stoking temperatures to a large portion of the West, there are very few clouds visible in the above image. Those that are present are bright white in color. That leaves the thick and sprawling patches of wildfire smoke, identifiable by its grayish, bluish and tan tones. The jet stream is unusually far south for July transporting the smoke west to east.
Another evening of ominous satellite imagery depicting a vast sea of #wildfire smoke from fires in northern #California, southern Oregon, and Nevada. I count at least 7 distinct pyrocumulus towers from large, actively-burning fires. #CAwx #CAfire #ORwx #NVwx #CarrFire #RiverFire pic.twitter.com/sHnxZyULiy
— Dr. Daniel Swain (@Weather_West) July 29, 2018
The Tweet above is from the day before, showing Northern California, a large portion of Nevada, and a sliver of Oregon. The amount of smoke is stunning.
— NWS Grand Junction (@NWSGJT) July 30, 2018
The most dangerous inferno now burning in the West is the Carr Fire, which as of yesterday had burned 103,772-acres, is 23% contained and has taken the lives of six people. The blaze has destroyed 1,132 structures so far with another 5,000 or so threatened. 16 states have sent firefighters to help in California, with help from another 6 states on the way.
But the Carr Fire is just one of 73 wildfires blazing across 831,772 acres in the American West overall (not counting Alaska), according to the latest tally from the National Interagency Fire Center. Fires in California and Oregon account for some 339,985 acres of that amount. And Colorado is currently being scorched by 10 fires across 198,716 acres — more area than any other state in the country.
In the image above, captured by the GOES-16 weather satellite today, you can see smoke flowing west on prevailing winds from California and Oregon across Nevada, Utah, Colorado and all the way into Kansas. Another streak of smoke is visible across the top of the Texas Panhandle and parts of Oklahoma.