Generally the old saying “where there is smoke, there is fire” rings true, but when thick, hot smoke rises high aloft into the atmosphere it may travel hundreds, sometimes thousands of kilometers away from the source.
This was the case on July 6, 2013 when the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument flying on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this true-color image of a thick river of smoke curling across the Atlantic Ocean.
In the west of the image, the green land of Canada can be seen, most of which is covered by a thin gray haze. A thick veil of smoke obscures much of southern Canada, and this tan-gray veil blows to the east, then to the northeast. The color of the smoke appears both tan and gray, and is stretched into brush-stroke like curves across the ocean, which disappears from view under the smoke. The smoke filled plume is so high that it even hides the bright white clouds from view as it travels over them.
Fires have been burning across Canada since early June, especially in Manitoba and Quebec. Rain in Quebec on July 5 helped diminish the fires in that location, although a severe fire was ignited when a freight train carrying oil derailed in the small, picturesque town of Lac-Megantic. This accident, which occurred on July 6, the same day this image was captured, killed at least 35 people and poured thick smoke into the skies.