While fires in Southern California are truly horrific, it gives us Meteorologists something to look at. Below is a high resolution satellite photograph that shows the smoke plume from the fires. The prevailing wind has been transporting the smoke into the Pacific Ocean, and it shows up very clearly via satellite.
It shows the versatility of satellite imagery. We can show clouds, smoke, snow cover, etc., and was truly a revelation in Meteorology back in the 1960's. Without satellite imagery, can you imagine how hard it would be to forecast storms and in particular hurricanes? We could use ship reports and reports from an island if the hurricane would hit the island, but that would be far inferior information. Take a look at the image below:
This is am image of Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf of Mexico. The only landmass close to it, is the Gulf Coast of the US. Imagine not knowing that a storm that size was about to hit you in the next 12 hours. Technology has helped many things in the past 50 years, but one of the professions that has gotten a huge boost is the field of Meteorology. While we may curse our computer models from time to time, I am truly thankful that I have to tools that I do, to do my job.
Chief Meteorologist Brian Bledsoe