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How to track movement of wildfires on google maps

Joe Fedewa
How to track movement of wildfires on google mapsJoe Fedewa
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Joe Fedewa is a Staff Writer at How-To Geek. He has close to a decade of experience covering consumer technology and previously worked as a News Editor at XDA Developers. Joe loves all things technology and is also an avid DIYer at heart. He has written thousands of articles, hundreds of tutorials, and dozens of reviews. Read more.

How to track movement of wildfires on google maps

Google Maps shows the location of ongoing wildfires and its movement over time. If you live in an area prone to fires, you can use this feature to track the progress of any dangers that might be heading your way. Here’s how the feature works.

The ability to view ongoing wildfires in Google Maps became available to users across the U.S. in August 2020. The data is provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s GOES satellites and processed by Google. This feature can be incredibly useful if there’s a fire near you.

The easiest way to find out more about nearby wildfires is by Googling it. To do so, open the “Google” app on your iPhone, iPad, or Android device and search for an ongoing wildfire by name.

How to track movement of wildfires on google maps

You see news stories and other information about the wildfire. Scroll down to the “Affected Area” card with a map preview. Tap “See More on Google Maps.”

How to track movement of wildfires on google maps

If you’re using an Android device, you may be asked which app you’d like to open the link with. Select “Maps” and tap “Just Once.”

How to track movement of wildfires on google maps

Alternatively, you can jump straight into the Google Maps app on your iPhone, iPad, or Android device. Once open, you can search for a specific fire or a town that has a nearby wildfire.

Google Maps will now open to show highlighted wildfire areas. The wildfires are outlined in red dashed lines. The movement of the wildfires is updated about once every hour. The last update time is shown on the info card. If you happen to be near the fire and want to let someone know where you are, there’s a button to share your location.

How to track movement of wildfires on google maps

Left: Android | Right: iPhone

Tap the information card to see news stories and get more information about the wildfire.

How to track movement of wildfires on google maps

Left: Android | Right: iPhone

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How to track movement of wildfires on google maps Joe Fedewa
Joe Fedewa is a Staff Writer at How-To Geek. He has close to a decade of experience covering consumer technology and previously worked as a News Editor at XDA Developers. Joe loves all things technology and is also an avid DIYer at heart. He has written thousands of articles, hundreds of tutorials, and dozens of reviews.
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How to track movement of wildfires on google maps

Google Maps shows the location of ongoing wildfires and its movement over time. If you live in an area prone to fires, you can use this feature to track the progress of any dangers that might be heading your way. Here’s how the feature works.

The ability to view ongoing wildfires in Google Maps became available to users across the U.S. in August 2020. The data is provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s GOES satellites and processed by Google. This feature can be incredibly useful if there’s a fire near you.

The easiest way to find out more about nearby wildfires is by Googling it. To do so, open the “Google” app on your iPhone, iPad, or Android device and search for an ongoing wildfire by name.

How to track movement of wildfires on google maps

You see news stories and other information about the wildfire. Scroll down to the “Affected Area” card with a map preview. Tap “See More on Google Maps.”

How to track movement of wildfires on google maps

If you’re using an Android device, you may be asked which app you’d like to open the link with. Select “Maps” and tap “Just Once.”

How to track movement of wildfires on google maps

Alternatively, you can jump straight into the Google Maps app on your iPhone, iPad, or Android device. Once open, you can search for a specific fire or a town that has a nearby wildfire.

Google Maps will now open to show highlighted wildfire areas. The wildfires are outlined in red dashed lines. The movement of the wildfires is updated about once every hour. The last update time is shown on the info card. If you happen to be near the fire and want to let someone know where you are, there’s a button to share your location.

How to track movement of wildfires on google maps

Tap the information card to see news stories and get more information about the wildfire.

How to track movement of wildfires on google maps

Google Maps shows the location of ongoing wildfires and its movement over time. If you live in an area prone to fires, you can use this feature to track the progress of any dangers that might be heading your way. Here’s how the feature works.

The ability to view ongoing wildfires in Google Maps became available to users across the U.S. in August 2020. The data is provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s GOES satellites and processed by Google. This feature can be incredibly useful if there’s a fire near you.

The easiest way to find out more about nearby wildfires is by Googling it. To do so, open the “Google” app on your iPhone, iPad, or Android device and search for an ongoing wildfire by name.

How to track movement of wildfires on google maps

You see news stories and other information about the wildfire. Scroll down to the “Affected Area” card with a map preview. Tap “See More on Google Maps.”

How to track movement of wildfires on google maps

If you’re using an Android device, you may be asked which app you’d like to open the link with. Select “Maps” and tap “Just Once.”

How to track movement of wildfires on google maps

Alternatively, you can jump straight into the Google Maps app on your iPhone, iPad, or Android device. Once open, you can search for a specific fire or a town that has a nearby wildfire.

Google Maps will now open to show highlighted wildfire areas. The wildfires are outlined in red dashed lines. The movement of the wildfires is updated about once every hour. The last update time is shown on the info card. If you happen to be near the fire and want to let someone know where you are, there’s a button to share your location.

How to track movement of wildfires on google maps

Tap the information card to see news stories and get more information about the wildfire.

Each year, forest fires consume millions of acres of land, destroying thousands of homes and properties in the Western United States and around the world. Fires like the 100,277-hectare Lutz Creek fire in British Columbia in August 2018 and the Camp Fire in California in November 2018, which burned more than 142,000 acres, exact a costly economic and human toll. The need to study the relationships between environmental factors and fires to minimize risk is critical.

How to track movement of wildfires on google maps

A key resource for wildland firefighters and managers around the world is NASA’s Fire Information for Resource Management System (FIRMS). The Fire Map allows you to interactively browse global active fire detections and burned area from the MODIS and VIIRS instruments.

Discover Fire and Related Data

Active Fire/Thermal Anomalies

How to track movement of wildfires on google maps

NASA provides data that can be used to detect active fires and thermal anomalies, such as volcanoes, and gas flares. These data are useful for studying the spatial and temporal distribution of fire, to locate persistent hot spots such as volcanoes and gas flares, and to locate the source of air pollution from smoke that may have adverse human health impacts.

Data Tutorials/Recipes

Data User Guides

Explore Fire Events in Worldview

Webinars

Land Dynamics and Burned Areas

How to track movement of wildfires on google maps

Land dynamics, including land cover types, vegetation health, and land surface temperature are important in predicting the severity of fire events. These measurements, along with burned area, help in the assessment of post-fire impacts.

Burned Areas

Land Cover

Land Surface Temperature

Data Tutorials/Recipes

Vegetation

Data Tutorials/Recipes

Webinars

NASA provides data, services, and tools that enable resource managers, disaster management teams, and scientists to understand and monitor environmental conditions before a fire starts, measure the intensity and development of fires as they are burning, and assess the effects and impacts of wildfires.

How to track movement of wildfires on google maps

Image of the Camp Fire in California from November 2018, shown in Worldview. NASA’s Worldview tool provides the capability to interactively browse over 900 global, full-resolution satellite imagery layers.

Lightning

How to track movement of wildfires on google maps

Wildland fires are most often started by humans, but lightning strikes have been the cause of some of the worst wildfires in the western United States and around the world. Wildfires caused by lightning often occur in remote locations that are not easily accessible.

Data Tutorials/Recipes

Webinars

Precipitation

How to track movement of wildfires on google mapsBy monitoring seasonal variations in precipitation (rain and snow) fire managers are better able to predict and evaluate when and where a wildfire may develop, how severe the fire may become, and the rate at which a wildfire spreads.

Data Tutorials/Recipes

Webinars

Smoke Plumes and Air Quality

How to track movement of wildfires on google maps

Air quality forecasters use near real-time (NRT) data from NASA’s Land, Atmosphere Near real-time Capability for EOS (LANCE) to improve some local and national air quality forecasts. Smoke plumes from agricultural burning and wildland fires can be a source of air pollution that may have adverse impacts on human health.

Aerosol Index

Aerosol Optical Depth (AOD)

Carbon Monoxide (CO)

Smoke Plumes

Sulfur Dioxide (SO2)

Getting Started

NASA’s Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) provides data from a variety of sources including satellites, airborne campaigns, field campaigns, in situ instruments and model outputs. These freely and openly available data can be used to understand and monitor environmental conditions before a fire starts, measure the intensity and development of fires as they are burning, and assess the effects and impacts of wildfires.

Dr. Charles Ichoku uses NASA Earth science data to study the global and regional impacts of fires in Northern Sub-Saharan Africa
Dr. Laura Bourgeau-Chavez studies wetlands and wildfire
Dr. Mike Ramsey develops new ways to study active volcanoes and to provide data to support emergency response
Dr. Nancy French explores the effects of wildfires on forest ecosystems
Dr. Santiago Gassó studies the concentration and global movement of dust

Data Pathfinders are pathways to the most commonly-used datasets within NASA’s Earth science collections. Pathfinders are designed to aid new data users in discovering data or visualizations of the data.

Read about how resource managers and researchers are using NASA satellite and field campaign data to study and monitor the development and impact of wildland fires, and the relationships between environmental factors and fires.

Google Maps recently launched a new wildfire boundary map in both its Maps app and in Google Search that allows you to track the movement of wildfires in near real time.

The new wildfire boundary map pulls data from trusted government agencies such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Google Earth on an hourly basis to show users’ the location of ongoing wildfires, as well as their movements over time.

Needless to say, the new wildfire tracking feature is not only useful, but it can also be lifesaving if there’s a wildfire near you.

To easily find information about the size, locations, and boundaries of fires in the U.S., you can Google it, or you can use the Google Maps app on your Android, iPhone, or iPad device. It’s worth noting that the wildfire tracking tool is also available on Google Maps for desktop, so if you don’t have a mobile device at hand, then you can just use that instead.

How to Track Wildfires on Google Maps

To find out more about nearby wildfires using Google search, simply open your favorite web browser on mobile or desktop and navigate to Google.com. Alternatively, you can also open the Google app on your Android or iOS device and search for “wildfire near me.” And if you happen to know the name of a wildfire, then you can also search for it by name to see official updates right on Google’s search results page.

You will see the latest news as well as other important information pertaining to the fire. And if you scroll down, you’ll see a map highlighting all the affected area. Of course, this is just a map preview, but you can tap on “See More on Google Maps” to get a good overview of what’s really going on.

How to track movement of wildfires on google maps

In the end, all roads lead to the Google Maps application because that’s where the meat and potatoes are. To save some time, you can open the Maps app right away instead of going through the search results (unless you’re looking for news stories, which may also help in getting an assessment of the situation).

If you’re going to use Google Maps to see fires near you, this is what you need to do:

  1. Open the Maps app.
  2. Type the name of a wildfire in the search bar or the name of a town that has a nearby fire.
  3. Tap “Search.”

Google Maps will now highlight the affected areas by outlining them with red dashed lines.

How to track movement of wildfires on google maps

Image – Google

Additionally, you can also get the latest news and other important information about the wildfire directly from the Google Maps app. Simply tap the information card to see the latest updates from around the country.

What do you think about Google’s new wildfire tracking feature? Let us know in the comments below.

The new feature is releasing globally this week for Google Maps on Android, with iOS and desktop updates coming in October

How to track movement of wildfires on google maps

As part of a drive to make Google Maps more useful during emergency situations, the Mountain View, California-based company is making it simpler to locate the most up-to-date information regarding wildfires.

After launching a tool in late 2019 to help people track wildfires, Google has now added a new wildfire layer to its Google Maps, which users will be able to turn on and off to see the most up-to-date information on several wildfires at once.

“Just tap on a fire to see available links to resources from local governments, such as emergency websites, phone numbers for help and information, and evacuation details,” reads Google’s blog post about the new feature. “When available, you can also see important details about the fire, such as its containment, how many acres have burned, and when all this information was last reported.”

According to Google, the new wildfire tracking feature will roll out globally this week for Google Maps on Android, with iOS and desktop updates coming in October.

Further, Google states that the new feature will be expanded to cover additional fires and information regarding fires in the United States, courtesy of data from the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), with Australia following suit. Hopefully, a similar tie-up with the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre (CIFFC) will result in Canadians getting the expanded feature as well, considering there are about 140 active wildfires in Canada right now.

CIFFC also has an interactive map of ‘Out of Control,’ ‘Being Held,’ and ‘Under Control’ wildfires, which you can check here.

Geospatial Technology and Applications Center

125 South State Street
Suite 7105
Salt Lake City, UT
84138

voice: (801) 975-3737
fax: (801) 975-3478

The Active Fire Mapping (AFM) website will be retired on December 31, 2021. FIRMS US/Canada is replacing AFM and provides a new interface to access satellite-based fire geospatial data, products and services. To access near real-time satellite active fire detection KMLs/KMZs, please see the FIRMS US/Canada Active Fire Data page.

Please update your bookmarks at your earliest convenience.

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How to track movement of wildfires on google maps

KML Access:
The links below provide access to several geospatial datasets relevant to fire management in Keyhole Markup Language (KML/KMZ) format for use in Google Earth and other virtual globe applications. Geospatial data are organized by specified geographic region and include location and characterization of satellite fire detections, current large incident locations and NWS fire weather forecasts.

All KMLs update automatically to ensure availability of the latest information (Current link). Animatated time series KMLs are provided for the latest updates of each of the fire detection data layers (Animation link). Access to KMLs for previous dates are provided for relevant data layers (Historic link).

KML Descriptions:
Fire Detections – MODIS (1km), VIIRS (375m and 750m), AVHRR (1km) and GOES (4km) fire detections by time/date of occurrence within the last 6, 12 and 24 hours, and the 6 days previous to the last 24-hour period.
Fire Radiative Power – Measured fire radiative power (fire intensity) for MODIS fire detections within the last 6, 12 and 24 hours, and the 6 days previous to the last 24-hour period. Available for MODIS only.
Large Incidents – Location and intelligence information of large wildfire incidents currently being tracked by the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) and Canadian provincial and territorial fire management agencies.
Fire Weather – Current National Weather Service fire weather watch and red flag warnings by fire weather zone. Available for CONUS, Alaska and Hawaii only.
AFM KML Bundle – A single KML containing all available KMLs provided by the Active Fire Mapping Program for each geographic area.

How to track movement of wildfires on google maps

Unsure about the number of years in Neptune’s orbit? Google search. Unsure what business casual actually entails? Google search. Unsure whether you are driving right into a wildfire complex and are in fear of being trapped with no escape? Also Google search.

In the past week, the California wildfires have burned down around one million acres of land– an area larger than Rhode Island. While the West Coast continues to suffer from these extremely damaging and widespread wildfires, Google released an update to its maps with a feature for identifying the fires’ boundaries.

By simply typing in “CZU Lightning Fire” on Google, you will be brought to a three part module on Google Maps that shows the boundaries of the fire, safety tips regarding the fire, and evacuation information and resources. The map shows the boundary of the fire as red dashes, and updates it hourly. Google is also suppressing any advertisements from appearing when these types of emergency searches are done!

How to track movement of wildfires on google maps

To map these fire boundaries, Google fetches most of the data from satellites run by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration . These satellites are used to track weather patterns throughout the United States, and are geosynchronous– they stay above fixed locations because they move accordingly with Earth’s rotation. There are infrared cameras on these satellites to detect hot spots on Earth , and Google Maps then runs its algorithms with these satellites to draw red lines on the map to signify the fire’s boundaries.

However currently, Google Maps does not predict the fires’ movements– so you cannot be sure where the fire will spread to next just by looking at the map. While Google hopes to add this feature soon, right now they are mainly focused on detection , which is still essential.

It all started in 2010 when Yossi Matias, the Google Vice President of Engineering at the time was working at Google’s office in Israel and the Mount Carmel Fire was occurring. His team could see smoke outside, but when they googled for more information, they only found what they could already assess from looking outside. Therefore, Google started to work on giving more curated information about emergency events.

This also led to the development of Google’s SOS feature on android phones in 2017, where notifications of emergencies happening nearby along with curated information and resources would pop up. This is the same feature that has also been sending out COVID-19 alerts throughout the year.

Nevertheless, there are many other apps out there that can notify users about fire emergency incidents, like PulsePoint and Citizen, and crowdsourced maps available that track wildfires and major weather events. However, Google as one of the most powerful databases in the world believes it can do a much better job and give out timely updates through its wildfire boundary mapping. While the fires on top of the pandemic in the West Coast are getting chaotic, it is calming to know Google has our back with a FIRE update.

While your location history is paused, some services still store your location data.

To find out if you’re tracked by Google, you can go to your Google Maps Timeline.

Going off the grid with Google is harder than you might expect.

Google services on Android devices and iPhones track and store your location data even if you turn location history off in your privacy settings, according to an Associated Press investigation.

You can turn off location history any time, but some Google apps still store your time-stamped location data, the AP reported. Google also reportedly uses this location data to target ads based on users’ specific locations.

Turning off location history just appears to remove your location from the Google Maps Timeline feature, which shows you where you’ve been in Google’s data.

You can turn off web and app activity tracking, which is enabled by default, and delete your location data in your Google account at myactivity.google.com. However, as the AP notes, this may affect how some services work, such as ride-hailing apps.

To find out if you’re tracked by Google, you can go to your Google Maps Timeline, and from there you can check your phone’s location settings and make adjustments.

Tech giants have been under fire for scandals related to data privacy, and the issue has caused some concern in Congress. The House Committee on Energy and Commerce last month sent a pair of letters to Apple and Alphabet, Google’s parent company, inquiring how the companies protect users’ privacy. Apple has responded with detailed answers to each question; Alphabet hasn’t.

“Location History is a Google product that is entirely opt in, and users have the controls to edit, delete, or turn it off at any time,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement. “As the story notes, we make sure Location History users know that when they disable the product, we continue to use location to improve the Google experience when they do things like perform a Google search or use Google for driving directions.”

In another statement to the AP, a spokesperson for the search giant said: “There are a number of different ways that Google may use location to improve people’s experience, including: Location History, Web and App Activity, and through device-level Location Services. We provide clear descriptions of these tools, and robust controls so people can turn them on or off, and delete their histories at any time.”

A larger problem

Still, the backlash over Google’s location history underscores how much scrutiny tech giants are under for their data-hungry business practices. Facebook received intense criticism over its Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which 87 million Facebook users had their personal information co-opted by a UK-based digital consultancy with ties to Donald Trump’s US presidential campaign.

In the wake of that controversy, many consumers have faced a wake-up call: When it comes to ceding their data to tech companies, they may not have quite known what they were signing up for.

Google came under fire last month when it was reported that employees of third-party app developers could read your inbox . At the time, Google said the practices were covered by the company’s terms of service.

But it gets even trickier when Google lays out its data tracking policies for consumers in confusing ways, as it does with its location history practices.

“Google is saying, with a straight face, that it’s perfectly clear that disabling the feature named ‘Location History’ does not prevent Google from tracking your location history,” John Gruber, a noted Apple commentator, wrote on Monday. “There’s nothing surprising about this, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t shameful.”

First published Aug. 13, 6:36 a.m. PT.
Update, 1:05 p.m. PT: Adds more context.

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