Continued hot, dry weather in the American west contributed to
the spread of numerous fires over the weekend of July 2930,
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.