The wildfires in Malibu and San Diego are visible from space in this NOAA GOES 11 satellite image taken today. The image was made available at NOAA’s Operational Significant Events Imagery web site. I took the photo and created an image overlay so you can see the smoke in Google Earth. The image has not been processed for proper cylindrical projection, but it’s not too far off. You can definitely see the larger amount of smoke from the San Diego fires. CNN has also been using Google Earth to show maps of the fires. [UPDATE Oct 23, 0830 EDT: NASA has released new satellite images of the smoke. Here are nicely aligned image overlays (taken on different dates) from NASA’s MODIS satellites. via this spanish blog.]
[UPDATE 22:30 EDT: And here is a great resource from the MODIS Active Fire Mapping Program and the US Forest Service – they have some great maps for currently active fires in various map formats – the one for Google Earth is particularly useful. Check out this one which covers the continental US – including the California fires. The data is a combination of data from earth-orbiting satellites which detect the heat signatures of fires, and ground-based information as well.
Also, there is a fire map being managed by radio station KPBS in San Diego with up-to-date information about the situation there. The fire map is available in Google My Maps (see below), and you can use the KML option to view the map in Google Earth . via Google Lat Long. Here is the map:
View Larger Map