Living Downwind

Bitterroot Forest Fire by John McColgan (2000) CC BY-NC 2.0 via Flickr. https://www.flickr.com/photos/catherinetodd/3326323876/in/album-72157614683116861/
Bitterroot Forest Fire by John McColgan (2000) CC BY-NC 2.0 via Flickr. https://www.flickr.com/photos/catherinetodd/3326323876/in/album-72157614683116861/

While the Kansas City area has received some serious rainfall this spring and summer, other parts of North America are battling drought and wildfires. Today’s hazy weather in Kansas City was due in part to smoke blowing from wildfires in Alaska and Canada. Per the KSHB Channel 41 Weather Blog, “the smoke at 20,000-30,000 feet from massive wildfires in Alaska and northwest Canada. We are in northwest flow and this smoke is being transported right into the middle of the country.”

I wanted to get a better visual grasp of the scale the wildfires were occurring. Looking at the Canadian Wildland Fire Information System interactive map, I clicked “show active wildfires” on the overlay option. A screenshot of the CWFIS map as of June 30, 2015:
wildfire screenshot 06.30.15

I was pretty impressed (okay, kind of shocked) with the size of the area that is affected by the fires.

U.S. Wildfire maps can be found at the USDA Forest Service Active Fire Mapping program, with data populated from the National Interagency Fire Center.

Tom Yulsman at Discover Magazine has a blog post describing the path of the smoke, along with satellite images.

Update (July 1, 2015): More satellite images of smoke from wildfires via i09.

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