West Mims Wildfire – Okefenokee Wildlife Refuge

The wildfire has been burning for just about a month now (it started from a lightning strike on April 6) in the West Mims area of Georgia’s Okefenokee Wildlife Refuge in Southeast Georgia – just north of the Florida state line. The area has been exceedingly dry this past Winter and the Spring rains have been too infrequent to make a difference in the conditions in the refuge.

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Satellite image (visible) just before local sunset. The extensive smoke plume from the West Mims Wildfire is dramatically visible in this image as the long trail of grayish white smoke streams to the southeast from the fire across much of North Florida and out over the Atlantic Ocean well out to sea some 200 to 300 nm from the fire. The air quality in Jacksonville, Florida (extreme Northeast Florida) today was terrible with severely reduced visibilities on the ground and aloft up to around 3,000 feet. Another wildfire can be seen burning just north of the Tampa Bay area.

The West Mims Wildfire has burned nearly 110,000 acres of the refuge and is now threatening the town of St. George, Georgia. Without significant rainfall soon, the wildfire could burn for another 6 to 9 months as it consumes the exposed and dry peat that makes up the most of the refuge’s area. The Okefenokee Wildlife Refuge is the largest freshwater swamp in the United States.

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A view of the dense smoke from the wildfire over the skies of Southern Jacksonville – well over 70 miles away from the actual fire. This is what it looked like from the ground beneath that plume seen on the satellite image.

The ‘Swamp’ has burned frequently and extensively in the recent past – a wildfire in 2011 burned for about 3 months before the rains from Tropical Storm Barry aided in stopping the fire. Another major wildfire in 2007 burned for nearly a year and the air quality was dramatically compromised throughout all of Northeastern Florida and Southeastern Georgia.

Camera: Samsung Galaxy S4

Chris

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