Grass fires in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas

March 6th, 2017 |

Widespread large grass fires began to burn across parts of northwestern Oklahoma, southwestern Kansas, and the Texas Panhandle on 06 March 2017. The fires grew very quickly during the late morning and early afternoon hours, due to strong southwesterly winds (with gusts as high as 67 mph in Oklahoma) behind a dryline (surface analyses); a cold front then moved southward across the region during the late afternoon and evening hours, bringing strong northerly/northwesterly winds.

GOES-16 (left) and GOES-13 (right) 3.9 µm Shortwave Infrared images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 (left) and GOES-13 (right) Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

*  GOES-16 data posted on this page are preliminary, non-operational and are undergoing testing *

In the 2-panel comparison shown above (also available as a 204 Mbyte animated GIF), Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images — 1-minute interval (Mesoscale Sector) 2-km resolution GOES-16 vs. 5-7 minute interval (Rapid Scan Operations) 4-km resolution GOES-13 — fire “hot spots” (dark black to yellow to red pixels) from the large Starbuck Fire can be seen making a very fast northeastward run from the eastern Oklahoma Panhandle into southwestern Kansas, behind the dryline; later, after the passage of the cold front, the leading edge of that fire and another large Kansas fire turned southward and moved back into Oklahoma. Another large fire in the Texas Panhandle (the Perryton Fire) moved rapidly eastward and crossed the border into Oklahoma (moving a distance of about 45 miles), before also turning abruptly southward in the wake of the aforementioned cold frontal passage. A total of 7 deaths resulted from these fires (CNN).

===== 07 March Update =====

On the following day, the large size of the grass fire burn scars could be seen in comparisons of true-color and false-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) images from Terra MODIS (1732 UTC), Suomi NPP VIIRS (1857 UTC) and Aqua MODIS (1912 UTC) images viewed using RealEarth (below). The burn scars appeared as dark areas in the true-color images, and shades of tan to darker brown in the false-color images.

Terra MODIS true-color and false-color images [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS true-color and false-color images at 1732 UTC [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color and false-color images [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color and false-color images at 1857 UTC [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS true-color and false-color images [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS true-color and false-color images at 1912 UTC [click to enlarge]

The creation of true-color and false-color images such as these will be possible using the ABI spectral bands available on GOES-16 and the GOES-R series of satellites. A separate blog post highlighting other multi-spectral GOES-16 views of these fire burn scars on 07 March  is available here.

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