It's another devastating year for wildfires in the West. The McKinney Fire in Northern California is now the largest of the year so far for the state. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's GOES-West satellite caught sight of the fire's startling growth over the weekend.
NOAA shared a time lapse of the fire from Saturday as seen by the Earth-watching satellite. The agency said the fire has shown "extreme behavior" and "explosive growth."
The McKinney Fire is tearing through the Klamath National Forest near California's border with Oregon. As of Monday, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said the blaze had consumed over 55,000 acres and was 0% contained after first flaring up on Friday. Thousands of residents have been evacuated, and two deaths have been reported. Cal Fire has not yet announced a cause.
Research meteorologist Scott Bachmeier of the University of Wisconsin, Madison analyzed the satellite imagery and spotted multiple pyrocumulonimbus clouds generated by the fire. This type of cloud can form above hot fires and is sometimes referred to as a fire cloud.
A study from earlier this year found US fires have trended up in severity, with larger and more frequent fires occurring. Human-caused climate change has been feeding into the disasters, which have struck particularly hard in the drought-ravaged West in recent years. The study came to the sobering conclusion that the worst is yet to come.