NASA satellites continue to capture remarkable new images of the wildfires raging in Southern California. At least 14 massive fires are reported to have scorched about 425 square miles from north of Los Angeles to southeast of San Diego.
These latest images, captured by NASA satellites on the afternoon of 22 October, show the thick, billowing smoke coming off the numerous large fires and spreading over the Pacific Ocean. Fire activity is outlined in red.
Dry, drought-stricken vegetation and Santa Ana winds, which can reach hurricane speeds, have contributed to the devastating effect of these blazes. The National Interagency Fire Centre reports that the Santa Ana winds are expected to continue through Wednesday.
According to news reports, almost 700 homes have been destroyed and hundreds of thousands of residents have been forced to evacuate.
Today, President Bush issued an emergency declaration for seven California counties, ordering federal disaster relief to the area.
Smoke from multiple wildfires burning in Southern California, together with dust in Southern California, Baja California and mainland Mexico, swirl out into the Pacific and Gulf of California, respectively, in this false-colour visible image from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder on NASA's Aqua satellite, acquired at about 7 PM Eastern Time on 22 October. Strong Santa Ana winds are fanning the wildfires, among the most destructive in recent memory.
The Atmospheric Infrared Sounder Experiment, with its visible, infrared, and microwave detectors, provides a three-dimensional look at Earth's weather. Working in tandem, the three instruments can make simultaneous observations all the way down to the Earth's surface, even in the presence of heavy clouds. With more than 2,000 channels sensing different regions of the atmosphere, the system creates a global, 3-D map of atmospheric temperature and humidity and provides information on clouds, greenhouse gases, and many other atmospheric phenomena. The AIRS Infrared Sounder Experiment flies onboard NASA's Aqua spacecraft and is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., under contract to NASA. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.