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Regional and Mesoscale Meteorology Branch

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December Wildfires in California

Posted On: December 6, 2017 - By: Barbra Lashbrook

More wildfires are ravaging the California landscape again, as hot, dry and windy conditions persist over the west coast. Fires this time, have initiated and developed to the north and northwest of Los Angeles, California. Several fires have been identified and named such as the ‘Thomas’, ‘Creek’ and ‘Rye’ Fires. The Thomas fire started in the evening hours on Monday, 4 December 2017, while the others initiated thereafter. As of 6 December 2017, the fires have spread rapidly due the existing Santa Ana winds, destroying infrastructure and buildings along their paths. No percent of fire containment has been declared from firefighters and local emergency management officials.

Here is quick look at a satellite imagery product that highlights the magnitude of these fires. The use of the Near-Constant Contrast (NCC) product monitors atmospheric phenomena, senses emitted and reflected light sources and assists with cloud monitoring during the nighttime. Below is a comparison between two different days provided from two static NCC images.

The first image, is of 3 December 2017 @ 0935z (0135 local time), showing the Los Angeles metropolitan area located in southwestern California. This particular image is taken before the fires initiated on 4 December 2017. One can see the emitted city lights from Los Angeles and all the neighboring suburbs, along with the existing cloud cover, located to the south and east of the metropolitan area. In complement to the image, in the top-right corner, is the moon percent visibility and moon elevation angle, implying that the moon provided adequate moonlight and the moon was above the horizon when the satellite image was taken.

The next image, shown below, shows a few days later, on 6 December 2017 @ 1020Z (0220 local time) the emitted city lights from the metropolitan areas along with the location of the fires and and areas of smoke, which appear to be moving offshore in the south, southwest directions. These fires are ongoing and we’ll have updates on these fires in the near-future.┬áSocial media images and videos can be seen via the hyperlinks provided.

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