Train derailment fire in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec

July 6th, 2013 |
GOES-13 3.9 µm shortwave IR images (click image to play animation)

GOES-13 3.9 µm shortwave IR images (click image to play animation)

A large fire resulted from a train derailment in the town of Lac-Mégantic, Quebec at around 05:15 UTC (1:15 AM local time) on 06 July 2013. According to the TSB investigation report and a CBC news story, the 72 rail cars were carrying crude oil. AWIPS images of 4-km resolution GOES-13 3.9 µm shortwave IR images (above; click image to play animation) revealed the fire “hot spot” (black to yellow to red pixels), with a maximum IR brightness temperature value of 36.5º C on the 05:30 UTC image.

The fire hot spot was no longer evident on the GOES-13 3.9 µm shortwave IR images after 06:15 UTC, perhaps because of partial obscuration by the approach of a patch of mid/high altitude clouds from the west — however, a well-defined fire hot spot (with a maximum IR brightness temperature value of 54.5º C) was still evident on a 375-meter resolution (mapped onto a 1-km AWIPS grid) Suomi NPP VIIRS 3.74 µm shortwave IR image at 06:21 UTC (below).

GOES-13 3.9 µm and Suomi NPP VIIRS 3.74 µm shortwave IR images

GOES-13 3.9 µm and Suomi NPP VIIRS 3.74 µm shortwave IR images

In addition to the fire hot spot on seen the VIIRS shortwave IR image, a very large and bright glow from the fire was apparent on the corresponding 0.7 µm VIIRS Day/Night Band image (below).

Suomi NPP VIIRS 3.74 µm shortwave IR and 0.7 µm Day/Night Band images

Suomi NPP VIIRS 3.74 µm shortwave IR and 0.7 µm Day/Night Band images

Hat-tip to Dan St. Jean of the National Weather Service forecast office at Gray/Portland, Maine for the heads-up on this event.

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