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NOAA satellite image of wildfires across the state of California taken on Oct. 26, 2003, at 3:55 p.m. EST.Oct. 27, 2003 — Wildfires burning for days merged into walls of flame stretching for miles across parts of Southern California on Sunday causing death and destruction. Air travel has been disrupted across the nation. Over the weekend, more than 7,000 firefighters fought ten major fires in southern California, one large cluster in the San Diego area and another about 100 miles north in mountainous areas north of Los Angeles. More than 300,000 acres have been blackened by the raging blazes. The fire storms drew much of their strength from the fierce Santa Ana winds, with near-hurricane gusts of up to 70 mph. Fires remain out of control as firefighters concentrate on evacuating residents and protecting structures. (Click NOAA satellite image for larger view of wildfires across the state of California taken on Oct. 26, 2003, at 3:55 p.m. EST. Click here for high resolution version, which is a large file. Click here for latest NOAA images. Please credit “NOAA.”)

The NOAA Storm Prediction Center, in Norman, Okla., pronounced southern California a "critical fire weather area" since the end of last week. NOAA Incident Meteorologists are providing localized fire weather forecasts to officials on the ground battling the fires.

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Relevant Web Sites
NOAA Fire Weather Information Center

NOAA National Weather Service Western Region

NOAA National Fire Weather Page

NOAA Western Red Flag Warnings

NOAA Fire Graphics and Satellite Images

NOAA Provides Critical Support to Wildfire Management

High-tech Meteorology Helps NOAA Forecast Fire Weather

NOAA Fire Weather Services

Media Contact:
Marilu Trainor, NOAA National Weather Service Western Region, (801) 524-5692 ext. 226 or Keli Tarp, NOAA Storm Prediction Center, (405) 366-0451