Image: NASA's Aqua satellite captures smoke billowing off California coast

December 14, 2017 by Lynn Jenner, NASA
Credit: Jeff Schmaltz LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team, GSFC

The huge amounts of smoke tumbling off the coast of California is also an indicator of how active the Thomas Fire still is. The grayish brown smoke shows that the fire is continuing to find fuel to burn. The billows of smoke coming off the Thomas Fire reach from the Santa Barbara all the way up the coast into Oregon and Washington.

Inciweb reports today that the fire is 237,500 acres in size and has been burning for 10 days now. Even though almost 50 percent of the fire is on system land, the fire still continues to threaten structures and communities. The Santa Ana winds are still gusty and are pushing the fire to the west. In the path of the fire is still plenty of fuel which is critically low in moisture and therefore easily combustible. Low humidity also continues to support the growth of the fire. The main concern of the firefighting effort is to continue to defend structures that are in the path of the fire and to continue efforts to control the perimeter of the fire. At present the fire is 25% contained. Nearly 8,000 firefighters are engaged in the Thomas Fire.

The Thomas Fire continues to threaten the communities of Santa Barbara, Carpinteria, Summerland, Montecito and surrounding areas. Weather conditions continue to be favorable for fire growth and unfavorable for fire fighting. A Red Flag warning remains in effect meaning that critical fire are either occurring now, or will shortly. A combination of , low relative humidity, and warm can contribute to extreme behavior.

NASA's Aqua satellite collected this natural-color image with the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, MODIS, instrument on December 12, 2017.

Explore further: Suomi NPP satellite provides copious information on California's fires

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