Northwest United States • Northwest United States

Northwest United States. On the Colville Indian Reservation in northeastern Washington, the Rattlesnake Canyon Fire began on July 4, 2003, of undetermined causes. This Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) from the Aqua satellite on July 9, 2003, shows the active fire at the far right of the image, marked with a red dot. As of July 9 reports were that the fire was more than 10,000 acres. The fire has destroyed at least one residence and numerous outbuildings, and is threatening others. The water source for the suppression efforts is 24 miles away, adding to the firefighters’ difficulties. The smoky fire to the west is the Fawn Complex Fire. Along the Pacific Coast, a bloom of phytoplankton is coloring the water bright blue and green.

The Northwestern United States, also known as the American Northwest or simply the Northwest, is an informal geographic region of the United States. The region consistently includes the states of OregonWashingtonIdahoMontana and Wyoming. Some sources include Southeast Alaska in the Northwest. The related but distinct term “Pacific Northwest” generally excludes areas from the Rockies eastward.

The Northwestern United States is a subportion of the Western United States (which is, itself, even more ambiguous). In contrast, states included in the neighboring regions (Southwestern United States and Great Plains) and Utah are not simultaneously considered part of both regions.

Like the southwestern United States, the Northwest definition has moved westward over time. The current area includes the old Oregon Territory (created in 1848–Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and areas in Montana west of the Continental Divide). The region is similar to Federal Region X, which comprises Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Alaska.

Credit: Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC

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