The scale of the Texas wildfires boggles the mind. 3.6 million acres or 5,625 square miles of the state have burned in the worst wildfire season on record. The five acres I grew up on seemed like a lot of land, so I find it impossible to grasp how many acres 3.6 million really is.
To get a better intuitive sense for the size, I needed to map that area on places I know. So, I created this series of maps of major US cities on which I've superimposed a circle with an area of 5,625 square miles (a radius of about 42.3 miles). I think you'll agree these visualizations are terrifying. If the fires were burning along I-95, they would have scorched everything between New York and Philadelphia.
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Alexis C. Madrigal is a staff writer at The Atlantic, a co-founder of the COVID Tracking Project, and the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology.