The wildfire which was sparked by a lightning strike in the refuge on April 6, is still out of control and is growing. As of today, the fire has consumed nearly 130,000 acres of the Wildlife Refuge which is located along the Georgia-Florida border in southeastern Georgia. The last visible satellite image for today clearly shows the extensive smoke plume streaming to the southeast across much of northeast Florida and out over the Atlantic Ocean.
Visible satellite image from May 8, 2017
Compare this image from today with the image from Saturday when the low level winds were much stronger.
Stronger winds produced a much longer smoke plume.
Conditions are favorable for the wildfire to continue in the short term as hot, dry weather will continue for the remainder of the week. At this point in time, the only way for the wildfire to be extinguished is by a long soaking rain event such as with a tropical wave, storm or hurricane.
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.
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.
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
On permanent display outside the U.S. Naval Submarine Base (SUBASE), Kings Bay, Georgia
Not often do you get to see a submarine surfacing through the earth.
A true Cold War warrior. America deployed the first boomers, the Forty-one for Freedom, to deter the Soviet Union from launching a first strike nuclear attack on the United States.
Love them or loathe them, they prevented a nuclear war with the Soviets and that was their mission.
The new (1980s) Trident class nuclear ballistic submarines (SSBNs) are the latest way to deter an enemy from launching a first strike. They are essentially invisible to our enemies while on patrol – hence the strategic deterrent. Even if all of our land based nuclear capabilities were destroyed in an insane first strike, the Trident fleet would essentially deliver a final blow to our attackers and lessen the chances for a follow on attack. Crazy stuff to think about but it is the reality of the world. Until all nuclear weapons are eliminated, it is the future that we have to live with.
Praying for an eventual end to all nuclear weapons and actually working towards that end are two different things. Someone must step forward to start the process.
Give peace a chance… but in the meantime ensure that peace has a chance by a strong commitment to deterrence.
Camera: Samsung Galaxy S4
The last strip of highway heading north towards Georgia. Up ahead the St. Marys River and bridge – heat radiates off the already hot pavement as a reminder that it’s only Spring – wait ’til Summer.
United States Highway 17 was the life giving link to the Eastern Seaboard and beyond. If you came to Florida in the 1940s, 1950s and early 1960s you crossed that bridge (well one like it but it was a drawbridge then but it’s not anymore even though the sign says it is, whew!) and your first glimpse of the Sunshine State was this patch of pavement. I-95 didn’t exist and it was 17 or nothing in those days. Now it’s only travelled by locals, log trucks or tourists looking for the original Florida. Along this stretch, cheap but nice motels with air conditioning and swimming pools beckoned those travellers that wanted their first taste of Florida and a cool bed. If you were real lucky, you’d spot a gator or two in the wet areas just off the the road.
Distance wise, this is Florida’s first motel – just a half mile from the Georgia line. It closed decades ago, driven out by high speed travel on smooth highways. The doors were closed and locked once – now termites and rot have opened them again. Couples would snuggle together in these rooms while on their honeymoon. Children would run wild through the parking lot waiting for the car ride that would take them to Florida’s first attractions still well south. Now only grass and weeds run wild.
Air conditioned – and just down the road souvenirs, film, food , whiskey and ice cream. Too far north for oranges. Just right for cold beer.
I like coming here… it’s quiet except for the occasional log truck along the highway heading south to the mills and of course the stray local or curious tourist. Not like it used to be – a steady stream of cars spilling across that bridge into the sunshine.
Yep, no trespassing. Trespassers will be stung or bitten – wasps and fire ants do the enforcing. No tourists – just bugs, heat and photographers.
Be sure to get off I-95 at Exit 3 in South Georgia and head west on Georgia 40 to US 17 in Kingsland (just a few miles away). Turn south on US 17 (left) and in a little bit you’ll cross that all too narrow bridge over the St. Marys River and you’ll be in Florida. Just a half mile south on your left you’ll find that first motel in Florida pictured above. Oh there’s no plaque or marker telling you about the history of this place, and that’s a shame. It was part of the gateway to the “New South” and it deserves recognition. It is for sale though! ^.^
Camera: Fujifilm FinePix S9900W
Thanks for your visit! Be sure to watch out for the fire ants!
It’s tough to think square again! I’m spoiled (aren’t we all) by the ease of digital photography – nice proportions – wide screen – big images – bold colors – lots of megapixels. Exposures? Shutter speeds? Composition? No worries – the technological gems we hang from our necks will think for us. I’m as guilty as anyone – I love what digital can do and what it can’t.
Now try to think of the world in little squares – 6 x 6 centimeter squares to be exact. It’s hard to do – modern formats are always elongated squares. Who loads square images on their blog? The square format went out with the Instamatic! But if you’re lucky enough to own (or have access to) a medium format (6×6) camera then you too can shoot in squares.
I recently took one of my Yashica TLRs out on a date – threw in some fresh Fujifilm and off I went. I must confess – I love color! Sure I like an occasional fling with some black and white (Neopan 100 Acros) but color gets me going. Not “computer generated color” – the subtle color you see only on film. It’s there (just like in real life) but it doesn’t tackle you to the ground like some overly saturated digital image. Just nice and easy color.
These following images were taken with my Yashica-Mat EM twin-lens reflex (TLR) camera. Exposures were determined (suggested actually) by the EM’s on board exposure meter. Yashica claims that it’s built-in but it’s really just attached to the left side of the body by three screws and a wire. No TTL or coupled metering here… just a bunch of tiny numbers on top of more tiny numbers with an almost invisible pointer pointing at those tiny numbers. I chose Fujifilm’s Fujicolor PRO 400H color negative film because I enjoy shooting with Fujifilm and usually like the results. I will point out that no post production was done on these images. No cropping, no color adjustments – they’re just as they were when developed and scanned by the lab (which was The Darkroom).
This is actually image 12 on the roll. Taken on day 2 of my travels. Perfect small town America shot. I lost my bright sun from the day before but the Fujicolor 400 made up for the dull sky. Is it properly exposed? Probably not. Off by about 1 stop or so.
Day 1 – image 7 on the roll. The Fujicolor handled the strong contrast between the sky and building. The Yashica’s meter did a fantastic job. About 1/500 at f/ 16-22.
Faded Florida – along U.S. Highway 17 in North Florida. High contrast with strong shadows. f/ 16 at 1/500.
A nice test for the Tomioka 80mm lens. No flare and some nice highlights on the water. 1/250 at around f/ 11-16. I metered to the left of the bridge. Looking south into Florida from Georgia. Highway 17 bridge over the St. Marys River.
Looking north towards Georgia. The Yashica’s meter did a wonderful job suggesting the proper shutter speed and aperture setting. 1/250 at f/ 16.
Shooting in squares can be fun and challenging. Do I think some of the images would be better in a 6 x 4.5 or 6 x 7 format? Yes – definitely. Can I learn to enjoy squares again? Yes – definitely.
Comments are always appreciated and welcomed. Thanks for your visit!
U.S. Highway 17 was the way to enter Northeast coastal Florida in days past – long before I-95 was even imagined. If you came down from the North in the late 1940s, you entered Florida over a way too narrow bridge over the St. Marys River – the official boundary between Georgia and Florida. The two lane road was well traveled and one of the last cities you would pass through before the bridge was Kingsland, Georgia… just a few miles north of the river. The next city wasn’t until you reached Jacksonville, Florida – a long way south. You can’t really count the in-between hamlets of Yulee and Oceanway – they were home to flashing lights just to make you slow down a bit.
To be the first attraction – or motel – or restaurant – or bar – or whatever along this busy corridor meant something I imagine. Where would the tourists stop to take a picture or pause to, you know, rest? Highway 17 was the bomb – it was the way south. Then I-95 came and it was over in a hurry.
What’s left of the Florida firsts?
U.S. Highway 17 bridge over the St. Marys River. Looking north into Georgia – this would have been your first step on dry land that was Florida.
After your safe passage over this way too narrow bridge, you would be treated with your first photo op…
Everybody stops to get their picture taken in Florida! What better place then this sign… and with palm trees too! This is the sign along U.S. 17 a little south of the border.
Gotta have a plaque to dedicate the sign.
All that’s left of some of the ‘firsts‘…
‘Souvenirs’ and ‘Whiskey’.
Nothing left to buy here except more time I suppose.
More than a few tourists walked through this door… come in please.
Last one out.
A wonderful place to explore… that first half mile of faded Florida along Highway 17. Many more opportunities to be sure. It was the first motel in now forgotten Florida. The people are elsewhere but the photo ops remain.
Thanks for your visit. As always your comments are appreciated.
You can also visit me at https://www.flickr.com/photos/127540935@N08/
One last shot – a modern I-95 Florida welcome.