Suomi NPP Provides Imagery Data Used to Monitor California Wildfires
Several large fires continue to burn in California—the nearly 7,000-acre Rye Fire (90% contained), the 4,100-acre Lilac Fire (80% contained) and the largest, the 230,000-acre Thomas Fire (5% contained). According to CALFIRE, the Thomas fire began on December 4, 2017 at approximately 6:30 pm and has since displaced tens of thousands of people. As of December 11, the fire has destroyed almost 800 structures and damaged 185 more.
More than 6,000 personnel are working to extinguish the blaze and, more may be needed as the fire continues to grow. Information released by CALFIRE on 12/11 notes that, “Severe fire weather will continue to promote significant growth [of the Thomas fire] further into Santa Barbara County…. Gusty Santa Ana winds will continue to push fire to the west, while very low fuel moistures, high temperatures and single-digit relative humidity will support fire growth on the west and north sides. Extreme fire behavior will continue to hamper control efforts.”
As firefighters respond to this emergency, the Joint Polar Satellite System’s Suomi NPP satellite has been capturing imagery (see below) showing the location and growth of the Thomas and other fires. In addition, instruments on Suomi NPP also collect data that is incorporated into weather models that can forecast the movement and atmospheric concentration of smoke produced by these conflagrations.
The JPSS Program Office has worked throughout the 2017 Fire Season to provide a variety of imagery and data, which firefighters and emergency personnel can use to make quick and effective operational decisions in the field. Data from NOAA-20 will soon add even more of this critical data to benefit actions taken to safeguard life and property.