Canada’s difficult fire season continued unabated through mid-August 2014. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Terra satellite flew over northern Canada and captured this true-color image of smoking pouring across the landscape on August 14.
Several red hotspots mark areas where the thermal sensors detected high temperatures associated with fires. Smoke lifts from hotspots, and most of these plumes spread in the prevailing direction of low level winds, either to the northwest (in the west of the image) or towards the southeast (in the east). In some areas the plumes appear to rise and join a large river of smoke stretching across Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia. The high smoke is so thick that in places it completely obscures the land from view – especially in Alberta, where Slave Lake cannot be seen.
According to the Canadian Wildland Fire Information System on August 13, fire danger continued to be high to extreme in British Columbia, with Alberta, Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories showing high fire danger. Eastern Quebec, Labrador, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick were rated as high, with patches of extreme fire danger. Manitoba and western Ontario were a little better, with only moderate fire danger.
The weekly synopsis reported 414 new fires within the previous 7 day period, with 118,563 hectares burned. It also reported that 32% of the fires were in British Columbia and 18% in Alberta. Seasonal fire occurrence was reported as 75% of the 10 year average, but the area burned this year is nearly twice the 10 year average.