NASA’s Aqua captured this image of a huge number of wildfires that have broken out in Oregon. Some began in August, but the majority started after an unprecedented and historically rare windstorm that swept through the Cascade foothills in the afternoon of Monday, September 7 through the morning of Tuesday, September 8. Wind gusts up to 65 mph were clocked during the event. The timing of the windstorm was unusual because those strong east winds usually occur in the dead of winter — not in early September. In addition to the heat, it is another example of the changing weather patterns that are being seen.

Some fires in Oregon were already aflame since they began in mid-August, but the size of the conflagrations was small. In fact, the Beachie Creek fire on the morning of September 7 was only 469 acres. After the windstorm began the fire grew overnight to over 131,000 acres driven by high winds and extremely dry fuels. Other fires grew as well, and a large number of fires were started on September 8, most likely from flaming debris or perhaps by lightning strikes. Whatever the cause, the winds overnight drove those fires to expand exponentially and quickly as well.

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