Persistent hot, dry weather in California and Oregon set the stage for an extremely active fire season in 2014. Near the end of July, clouds brought a little rain, but even more lightening across the region. According to Wildfire Today, almost 1,000 lightning strikes hammered northern California during the last week of July. Combined with high temperatures, reported a high as 108°F (42.2°C) in Redding, CA, these strikes ignited several fires, and the difficult, windy weather made fires spread rapidly, while making firefighting efforts challenging.
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite flew over the region on August 1, and captured this true-color image of the scene. Multiple red hotspots dot the landscape in Oregon and California, with the largest concentration near the border of the two states. Each hotspot is an area where the thermal sensors on the instrument have detected temperatures higher than expected. When combined with typical smoke, such hotspots are diagnostic for actively burning fires. The smoke blows in various directions, depending on the prevailing wind, but generally towards the north. A bank of low cloud (fog) sits off the California coast.