Smoke Plume Over Denver

June 12, 2002


Provided by: Hank Brandli, Kelly Dean
Summary authors & editors: Don Reinke; Jim Foster

The above NOAA satellite image was taken on June 10 over the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. On this false color image, the yellow color is smoke from the fire on the outskirts of Denver, red represents healthy forests, the bluish color is open land (prairies and agricultural lands), and the white puffs are clouds. As of Monday, 40,000 people were evacuated from their homes southwest of Denver as a major forest fire, likely started by careless campers, was spreading eastward on westerly winds. More than 75,000 acres have been burned thus far, and smoke and ash are causing serious air quality problems from Denver north to Ft. Collins. In fact, ash has been reported on the ground 100 miles (160 km) downwind of the fire. With very dry air aloft (relative humidity below 20%), this fire, which is already one of Colorado's biggest in the last century, will likely continue to spread unless rains soon arrive. Unfortunately, no widespread rains are in the immediate forecast.

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