Idaho Lightning Fires and Pyrocumulus

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Here are a few compelling views of the still-burning lightning-lit fires in Idaho. The top image above was taken on Aug. 8 and shows a spectacular pyrocumulus cloud, which is a cumuliform cloud that is produced specifically from intense heat sending the air convecting upwards into the atmosphere. The cloud in this photos rises from the Elk Complex Fire and is seen from miles away (the photo was first published on the Elk Complex Incident website). These clouds are becoming almost commonplace in the West, with so many wildfires this summer.

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The other image (top right) was taken from space on Aug. 10, by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite. The red lines show where the fires are burning.

The four fires seen in the MODIS image were ignited by lightning and have blackened 328,376 acres (475 square miles) and involved as many as 1,724 firefighters. As of today, the Elk Complex Fire has burned 116,914 acres. But the biggest fire in the U.S. right now is the Pony Complex Fire, at 143,900 acres. The McCan fire is currently 60 percent contained at 23,389 acres and the Beaver Creek fire is only 11 percent contained having charred 44,173 acres since it began on Aug. 9.

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Larger versions of the images and more information can be obtained at the NASA Earth Observatory website.

IMAGES: 

Top and lower right: Elk Complex Fire courtesy of InciWeb.

NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC.