Fire Storm 2011 has taken over our area. If only with smoke. These are pictures I took at 9:30 this morning. It's the first day of summer and no it's not cloudy or overcast, we just can't find the sun through the massive influx of smoke.
The past week we've been hitting the upper 90's and even 100 with the heat index pushing 110. We do have increased rain chances closer to the weekend but the drought has been bad this year. Jacksonville is surrounded by wildfires. Much of the Okefenokee Swamp located in Northeast Georgia, approximately 45 minutes north of Jacksonville has settled in here.
Almost 300,000 acres have been scorched by wildfires so far with no end in sight due to the drought. Within a 50 mile radius of Jacksonville, 157 wildfires are burning actively. Most are contained and are being closely monitored.
You can see just how thick the smoke is in this photo. Normally you can clearly see across the water. It's hard to tell where the water stops and the sky starts.
The smoke is so bad especially in the mornings or late at night that we wake up smelling it in the house. Today is the worst that it's been. Yesterday was such a nice day (smoke wise anyway) that it's hard to believe it could get like this overnight. I feel so bad for those with asthma. I'm so grateful that Zack (my Grandson with C.F.) is not here. I can taste it and even smell it in our hair. Neil and I are both effected with head aches and sinus problems from it. Even Mattie (our fur baby) slept with her head under the covers last night.
This is Jacksonville's downtown area. We're just on this side of the bridge. Not a pretty sight considering that it would be sunny if the smoke weren't there. We need the rain so much, but even that can be tricky. As one of our local meteorologist said we need rain with a name, in-other-words, a tropical storm. With Florida being the lightening capital of the United States, it's pretty dangerous to have rain without a torrential downpour because the lightening from all the heat just starts more wildfires.
The National Weather Service in Jacksonville this morning issued a dense smoke advisory for Northeast Florida until 4 p.m. as well over 150 wildfires are burning within a 50-mile radius of Jacksonville and others are popping up routinely.
Smoke from massive fires in Southeast Georgia, including the 251,570-acre Honey Prairie Fire, continues to drift east-southeastward toward the coast. Visibility is no more than a quarter of a mile in some areas near fires and the Intracostal Waterway.
Jacksonville firefighters responded to numerous reports of small fires and smoke this morning. A thick haze that coated the area also grounded the Sheriff's Office helicopter.
Late Monday, 157 wildfires were burning within a 50-mile radius of Jacksonville, covering 280,595 acres and promising more smoke today in areas mainly north and south of the city.
Smoke will continue to blow across Nassau County in Florida and Camden and Charlton counties in Georgia, said meteorologist Phil Peterson of the National Weather Service at Jacksonville International Airport.
Those fires burning in and near the Okefenokee Swamp have the potential for extreme behavior in coming days as the heat builds and rain holds off, fire.