ROANOKE, Va. – 2020 has been the worst year for wildfires in California, with more than 2 million acres burned this year alone. Record temperatures, bone dry air and high wind gusts continue to make the firefight extremely difficult along the West Coast.
The sky for some has turned an eerie orange during daylight hours. Just check out this picture that WSLS’ Taj Simmons got from his mother.
Nowadays, weather technology is advanced enough to showcase the severity of these fires. This is something I saw firsthand when covering the Gatlinburg fires in the fall of 2016.
Satellite imagery is most commonly used to study clouds and cloud structures. We use this when tracking large storm systems like hurricanes or cold fronts, and we use this on smaller scale systems like thunderstorms.
In the case of a wildfire, infrared satellite imagery paints a clear picture. The temperature of different surfaces, like cloud tops and lakes, appears as black, grey or white. The black dots that you see in the picture below are where the surface is hottest, or where wildfires are currently burning.
We show radar most often when tracking any form of precipitation. When fires are bad enough and the smoke is dense, those particles can be detected by radar as well.
Tap the video below, and you can clearly see the smoke plumes that I’ve highlighted in this tweet.
We’d love to be detecting some beneficial rain on radar in that part of the country. For places like Medford, Oregon, high temperatures are expected to be around 100° the next several days.
Meteorologist Chris Michaels is an American Meteorological Society (AMS) Certified Broadcaster, forecasting weather conditions in southwest Virginia on WSLS 10 News from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. weekdays on Virginia Today.
Wildfire, West Coast of the United States
World news – US – Weather technology shows the severity of wildfires on the West Coast