Saturday, August 11, 2018

How Big is the Mendocino Complex Fire?


The Mendocino Complex Fire has now become the largest fire in California's history. This has led to an outbreak of mapped visualizations of the fire. Some of these maps have attempted to visualize the size of the fire and how it compares to previous Californian fires.

The Guardian's report on the fire includes an animated map which shows how the fire has spread since it started on 27 July. How the Mendocino Complex fire became the largest in California history also includes a static map which overlays the area of New York City on top of an aerial view of the fire. The Guardian report on the fire ends with a timeline of Californian fires showing the relative size of each fire.

You can also see how the Mendocino Complex fire compares in size to previous California fires on an interactive map created by Mercury News. Their California’s Biggest Fires article includes a Google My Map which overlays the footprint of California's 10 biggest fires on top of a map of the Bay Area.


The New York Times has also released a visualization of the largest Californian fires. In Three of California’s Biggest Fires Ever Are Burning Right Now the NYT shows the footprints of the 29 largest wildfires in California's history in order of the size of the fires.

Three fires burning right now in California are in the top 28 of the state's largest fires. This small multiples visualization shows this year's fires in red, while the footprints of fires from previous years are shown in yellow. Later in the NYT's story the footprints on the three active fires are also shown on top of a static map of California.


NBC Philadelphia has created an interactive map which actually allows you to compare the size of the fire to any location. The See How Big the Mendocino Complex Fire Would Be in Your City map allows you to view the shape of the fire on top of any city. Use the search function or pan the map to see how the fire compares to your location.

The NBC map was made with the Leaflet.js mapping library. The Turf.js geospatial analysis library was used in order to rescale the fire shape depending on the degree of latitude of the current map view (to compensate for the distortions of the Web Mercator map projection).
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