As smoke from wildfires blew through Texas, so did a dust storm. Originating in the southwestern corner of Kansas, multiple plumes of dust blew in a giant arc over Oklahoma and Texas. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite acquired this natural-color image on April 15, 2011.
Dust and smoke plumes mingle in this image, but can be easily distinguished from each other. Smoke plumes are pale gray, and arise from hotspots—areas of unusually high surface temperatures detected by MODIS—outlined in red. The dust plumes are tan, similar in color to the ground surface in this region. The parallel dust plumes mimic the southwestern margin of a nearby cloudbank. The clouds may be associated with the same weather system that stirred the dust.
As of April 12, 2011, the U.S. Drought Monitor reported that drought conditions prevailed in eastern Colorado, western Kansas, and virtually all of Oklahoma and Texas. Drought conditions in this region ranged from moderate to extreme. Farther south, in roughly the same area where large wildfires burned near the U.S. Mexico border, drought conditions rated as exceptional.