Dramatic Animation of Satellite Images Captures Colorado Wildfire, Now at nearly 60,000 Acres — and Growing

By Tom Yulsman | June 22, 2013 2:34 pm

Two animations of GOES-13 satellite images — in visible light above and infrared below — show the smoke plume from the West Fork Complex fire on June 20. (Credit: CIMSS Satellite Blog)

Since my wildfire post on Thursday (Blazes Scorch the West as Critical Fire Weather Takes Hold), the situation in Colorado has become more serious. At least six wildfires are burning here today. The latest information suggests the acreage burned so far totals more than 70,000 acres.

The graphic above is an animation of images from the GOES-13 weather satellite showing the smoke plume from the West Fork Complex fire developing pyrocumulus clouds. (Check out this post from NASA’s Earth Observatory for a good explanation of the phenomenon.) The top panel shows the view in visible light, and the bottom in infrared. Once again, credit goes to the awesome Satellite Blog of the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies. Check out their more detailed post about these animations.

The blaze has now grown to nearly 60,000 acres. Exacerbated by high temperature and low humidity, and driven by gusting winds, the fire is moving toward the historic town of Creede, according to the Denver Post.

Here’s an astonishing photo of the blaze, taken by the Pike Hotshots and published by Wildfire Today:

Visit the Pike Hotshots Twitter page for more incredibly dramatic imagery.

As the situation warrants, I’ll post further updates.



ImaGeo is a visual blog focusing on the intersection of imagery, imagination and Earth. It focuses on spectacular visuals related to the science of our planet, with an emphasis (although not an exclusive one) on the unfolding Anthropocene Epoch.

About Tom Yulsman

Tom Yulsman is Director of the Center for Environmental Journalism and a Professor of Journalism at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He also continues to work as a science and environmental journalist with more than 30 years of experience producing content for major publications. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Audubon, Climate Central, Columbia Journalism Review, Discover, Nieman Reports, and many other publications. He has held a variety of editorial positions over the years, including a stint as editor-in-chief of Earth magazine. Yulsman has written one book: Origins: the Quest for Our Cosmic Roots, published by the Institute of Physics in 2003.


See More


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

Collapse bottom bar