Animation of Sequoia Forest Fire

Continued hot, dry weather in the American west contributed to the spread of numerous fires over the weekend of July 29–30, 2000. This is the most active fire season in the United States since 1988, when large portions of Yellowstone National Park burned.

One of the largest fires currently burning has consumed more than 63,000 acres in Sequoia National Forest. This NOAA Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) image shows the fire on the afternoon of July 30, 2000. Note the clouds above the smoke plume. These often form during large fires because updrafts lift warm air near the ground high into the atmosphere, cooling the air and causing the water vapor it contains to condense into droplets. The soot particles in the smoke also act as condensation nuclei for the droplets. View the animation of GOES data to see the smoke forming clouds.

Image and Animation by Robert Simmon and Marit-Jentoft Nilsen, NASA GSFC, based on data from NOAA.