Caughlin Wildfire near Reno, Nevada

November 18th, 2011
GOES-15 3.9 µm shortwave IR images (click image to play animation)

GOES-15 3.9 µm shortwave IR images (click image to play animation)

The 2000-acre “Caughlin Fire” started burning around 08:45 UTC (1:45 am local time) in the hilly terrain near Reno, Nevada, and soon grew out of control due to strong winds gusting as high as 74 mph. McIDAS images of GOES-15 3.9 µm shortwave IR data (above) showed the “hot spot” (black to yellow to red enhanced pixels) associated with the fire. At least 30 homes were destroyed, with many more damaged by the fire. Thousands of residents were evacuated.

Evidence of the strong winds across the region could be seen on an AWIPS image of MODIS 6.7 µm water vapor channel data (below), with a number of very pronounced mountain waves showing up on the image. These mountain waves persisted for several hours, and were responsible for pilot reports of severe turbulence, wind shear, and 50-knot crosswinds during descent to final approach into the Reno airport. The highest wind gust reported at the Reno airport was 44 mph, and surface visibility was also reduced to 6 miles at the airport due to smoke.

MODIS 6.7 µm water vapor channel image

MODIS 6.7 µm water vapor channel image

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