As numerous and expansive wildfires continue to rage across the western United States, officials are warning that conditions will worsen with the effects of thunderstorms and lightning in the region.
“It’s shaping up to be another difficult wildfire season. And the weather conditions—windy and dry with lightning—are problematic,” Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) tweeted on Tuesday. “Unfortunately, we’re responding to new fires as we continue to recover from last year’s devastating fire season.”
Oregon is currently experiencing eight large-scale active fires, with a fire in southern Oregon being the largest fire burning in the U.S. at this time. The fire, which ignited from an undetermined cause on July 6, has burned 394,407 acres and produced fire clouds.
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Fire clouds, or pyrocumulus clouds, are plumes of smoke and ash that accumulate like a cloud in the sky that can spew ash and embers, sometimes even lightning, to other areas and further increase the range of the fire.
And Oregon isn’t the only state being sieged by wildfires.
According to the National Interagency Fire Center, there are 78 large active fires burning in 13 states, largely throughout the West.
In California, a fire’s pyrocumulus cloud generated its own lightning on Monday, adding to concerns it will ignite new fires or continue to rapidly spread. It has already burned more than 61,000 acres.
The hazardous effects of the numerous fires have even been felt on the East Coast. Areas from New York to Washington, D.C., are experiencing hazy skies and air quality alerts as smoke from the wildfires have drifted all the way to the East Coast.
“On the West Coast, the urgent and dangerous climate crisis has exacerbated conditions. We’re seeing extensive drought conditions, with 19 counties in drought emergencies. Unprecedented heat waves. And fire seasons that are arriving earlier, coming on faster, and lasting longer,” Gov. Brown said. “We must be prepared. Each and every one of us.”
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