Natural gas pipeline explosion in Texas

June 15th, 2015 |

GOES-15 (left) and GOES-13 (right) 3.9 µm shortwave IR channel images [click to play animation]

GOES-15 (left) and GOES-13 (right) 3.9 µm shortwave IR channel images [click to play animation]

An explosion occurred along a natural gas pipeline near Lindenau, Texas just after 01 UTC on 15 June 2015 (8:00 pm local time on 14 June). The thermal signature or “hot spot” of the resulting fire was detected on both GOES-15 (GOES-West) and GOES-13 (GOES-East)  3.9 µm shortwave IR imagery (above; click image play animation). The images have overlays of surface reporting stations (yellow), Interstate highways (cyan), and primary highways (gray). The relatively small but very hot fire exhibited IR brightness temperatures as high as 341.1 K on GOES-13 and 340.0 K on GOES-15, which is close to the saturation temperature for the 3.9 µm detectors on those satellites. Since GOES-13 was in Rapid Scan Operations (RSO) mode at the time, the fire hot spot was first detected by that satellite (at 0107 UTC) — and the IR brightness temperature remained at 341.0 K for another 40 minutes after initial detection (0115 to 0155 UTC).

A subtle signature of the fire’s smoke plume (lighter gray enhancement) could be seen moving northwestward and then northward away from the fire hot spot. On the 0125 UTC GOES-13 shortwave IR image (below), and overlay of the CRAS model winds showed them turning from southeastward at the surface (in agreement with regional METAR surface reports) to southerly at an altitude of 3 km, suggesting that the smoke plume may have reached that height.

GOES-13 3.9 µm shortwave IR image (with METAR surface reports and CRAS surface. 1km, 2km, and 3km winds)

GOES-13 3.9 µm shortwave IR image (with METAR surface reports and CRAS surface. 1km, 2km, and 3km winds)

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