High temperatures, low humidity, dry vegetation, and strong winds brought an early start to the 2019 Australian bushfire season. In a news conference on September 9, Queensland’s acting premier Jackie Trad reported that 65 wildfires were burning in that state, with 47 other structures damaged or destroyed. Eleven schools were closed throughout the state, not because they were directly in danger, but to keep kids out of the polluted atmosphere as well as ensure access on the road. Dr. Richard Wardle from the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said they expect increased wind speeds and locally severe fire ratings, especially in the southeast of the state for the next several days. The tropical north is also in very high fire danger due to the very dry conditions and high winds.
On September 9, 2019, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on board NASA’s Aqua satellite acquired a true-color image of fires burning in northern Queensland. Each red “hot spot” marks an area that the thermal bands on the instrument detected high temperatures. When combined with typical smoke, as in this image, such hot spots mark actively burning fire. In two areas in the west, fires burn at the edge of blackened fire scars, which are areas where the fires have burn vegetation to the ground, leaving only a charred area that can be seen from space.