John & Anne Wiley

2016/06/25

Wind, Dust, Ash and… Smoke?

Filed under: Flying,Has Photos,Nature,Random,SB Region — John @ 03:40

*Update: Probably just ash (see below).

I was worried when we flew over the Sherpa burn area and back to SBA lower along the shoreline today. The wind was quite strong from the North over the ridge, but more from the West down nearer the beach at the East end of the fire. We thought the whiter plumes above the beach fog might possibly be smoke, so we actually texted two pix to Edhat from the air. We wanted to warn people living in that area to watch for smoke just in case. But soon after we landed the wind had abated and we’ve not heard anything about fire flareups. Anyway, here are larger versions of the pix we sent Edhat.

8113 Fog, Dust, Ash, and??

8113 Fog, Dust, Ash, and??

At the bottom is the beach fog rolling in. The big brownish streak above that looks to me like dust. Off to the left looks more like blown ash. But in between the fog and dust are some small white plumes that could be any of the above – or smoke. Here’s a closer look at that area from a different angle.

8116 Fog & What Else?

8116 Fog & What Else?

Toward the left just above the fog is a clearing and on the hillside just above that and in a hollow on this side of the near ridge above those are bluish-white puffs that could be smoke. The fire has still not be listed as “contained” and that may be partly due to scattered smouldering areas that could flare up and/or blow embers. I wonder: has the wind stopped there, and is there smoke in these pix?

*Update:  I finally got time to look at more of the pix from Friday’s flight, and it seems to me the white plumes are just blown ash. First, here’s another look at the whole burn area past the NW corner down to the SE.

7994 Sherpa Burn NW to SE

7994 Sherpa Burn NW to SE

What had us most worried were those bluish-white plumes along the East flank in the distance. They’re a different color from the browner streak of ash and dust trailing up off the top of the pic toward the islands. But another pic, zoomed in to that East flank from lower offshore gives more detail.

8052 Blown White Ash

8052 Blown White Ash

The wind was quite strong, and there’s no sign of flames. There’s lots of white ash in the canyon left over from the thick brush and very hot fire there. It seems clear from this angle, that ash is blowing up the slope and into the air so that it looks very much like smoke from most angles. We also saw a gathering of vehicles in one area, so there almost certainly were many eyes (and possibly infrared cameras) watching the whole burn area carefully. It seems most likely the fire is indeed out, or we would have seen some flames.

What an amazing job the firefighters have done, knocking down this massive fire in such thick dry fuel with epic wind and heat. Thank you!

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