A large fire burning in New Jersey is spreading ash and smoke as far away as New York; it’s also leaving clear signals on weather RADAR. The fire, which sent plumes of black smoke visible in several counties, was first reported at 1:45pm in Penn State Forest in Woodland Township, Burlington County. The fire grew to 5,000 acres by 10pm last night and has now consumed just over 10,000 acres as of this afternoon. Fortunately, firefighters at the scene now consider the fire 75% contained.
While people as far away as Staten Island, New York, have reported ash and smoke from the fire, and people throughout the Garden State have reported smelling the smoke from far away, another place the smoke is visible is on weather RADAR. National Weather Service weather RADAR has been able to capture the big plume of smoke as it rises into the sky from near the Burlington / Ocean County border.
Beyond tracking precipitation, weather RADAR can be used to track other objects in the air. In 2018, the same RADAR unit showing today’s smoke helped locate a part of a Southwest Airlines jet that broke-off in flight over Pennsylvania. Other times, RADAR has shown bugs, bats, and birds. In the 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, RADAR was able to show the debris field from the disintegrating shuttle across portions of Texas and Louisiana.