Fires in eastern Kansas and Oklahoma

April 11th, 2017 |

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

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

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

A comparison of GOES-16 and GOES-13 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (above) showed numerous fire “hot spot” signatures (black to yellow to red pixels, with red being the hottest) from prescribed burning across the Flint Hills region of eastern Kansas and northeastern Oklahoma on 11 April 2017. Such fires are an annual tradition in this area, required to preserve the tallgrass prairies — for example, over 2.7 million acres were burned during Spring 2016. The 2-km spatial resolution (at satellite sub-point) and 5-minute scan interval of GOES-16 allowed for more accurate detection and monitoring of the fires (compared to the 4-km spatial resolution and 15-30 minute scan interval of GOES-13).

The corresponding Visible GOES-16 (0.64 µm) vs GOES-13 (0.63 µm) images (below) tracked the development and transport of smoke from the fires. Hourly reports of surface visibility (in statute miles) are plotted in red; at Fort Riley, Kansas, smoke reduced the visibility from 10.0 miles at 21 UTC to 1.0 mile at 23 UTC, adversely affecting air quality there.

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm, left) and GOES-13 Visible (0.63 µm, right) images, with hourly reports of surface visibility (statute miles, red) [click to play animation]

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm, left) and GOES-13 Visible (0.63 µm, right) images, with hourly reports of surface visibility (statute miles, red) [click to play animation]

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.

Fires continue in the southeast United States

November 14th, 2016 |

Terra MODIS (1650 UTC), Aqua MODIS (1829 UTC) and Suomi NPP VIIRS (1913 UTC) true-color images [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS (1650 UTC), Aqua MODIS (1829 UTC) and Suomi NPP VIIRS (1913 UTC) true-color images [click to enlarge]

Fires (as seen on 07 and 10 November) continued to burn in parts of the southeast US on 14 November 2016. A sequence of 3 consecutive true-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) images from Terra MODIS (1650 UTC), Aqua MODIS (1829 UTC) and Suomi NPP VIIRS (1913 UTC) viewed using RealEarth, above, showed the aerial extent of the dense smoke that was most concentrated over Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. With the aid of some of the 16 spectral bands on the ABI instrument aboard GOES-R, true-color images like these will be available at least once every 5 minutes over the Lower 48 states and adjacent areas.

GOES-13 (GOES-East) Visible (0.63 µm) images with plots of surface weather and visibility (below; also available as an MP4 animation) revealed that visibility was restricted to 3 miles or less at one or more sites in all of the aforementioned states. A pair of pilot reports in eastern Tennessee indicated that he top of the smoke layer was at 6000 feet above ground level.

GOES-13 Visible (0.63 µm) images, with hourly plots of surface weather (yellow) and visibility (statute miles, in cyan) [click to animate]

GOES-13 Visible (0.63 µm) images, with hourly plots of surface weather (yellow) and visibility (statute miles, in cyan) [click to animate]

High loading of particulate matter (PM) due to smoke led to AIRNow Air Quality Index ratings of Unhealthy (red)  to Very Unhealthy (purple) over much of that 4-state region (below).

Hourly AIRNow Particulate Matter (PM) Air Quality Index (AQI)

Hourly AIRNow Particulate Matter (PM) Air Quality Index (AQI)

===== 15 November Update =====

Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 um) and Day/Night Band (0.7 um) images, plus METAR surface reports [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 um) and Day/Night Band (0.7 um) images, plus METAR surface reports [click to enlarge]

A toggle between Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 um) and Day/Night Band (0.7 um) images (with and without METAR surface reports) at 0735 UTC or 3:35 am local time on 15 November (above) showed the “hot spot” signatures and bright glow from the larger fires that were burning in northern Georgia and western North Carolina. With ample illumination from the Moon — which was in the Waning Gibbous phase, at 99% of Full — smoke plumes from some of these fires could be seen drifting southward or southeastward,  thanks to the “visible image at night” capability of the Day/Night Band.

During the subsequent daytime hours, Terra MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color RGB images (below) again revealed the vast coverage of the thick smoke — and VIIRS Aerosol Optical Depth values were quite high over South Carolina. Unhealthy AQI values persisted during much of the day across parts of Tennessee, Georgia and South Carolina.

Terra MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color images, with VIIRS Aerosol Optical Depth (click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color images, with VIIRS Aerosol Optical Depth (click to enlarge]

A sampling of pilot reports (PIREPS) showed some of the impacts that the smoke was having on aviation (below).

Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) image with a PIREP over South Carolina [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) image with a PIREP over South Carolina [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) image with a PIREP over Georgia [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) image with a PIREP over Georgia [click to enlarge]

GOES-13 Visible (0.63 µm) image with a PIREP over North Carolina [click to enlarge]

GOES-13 Visible (0.63 µm) image with a PIREP over North Carolina [click to enlarge]

===== 16 November Update =====

Terra/Aqua MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS true- color images [click to enlarge]

Terra/Aqua MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS true- color images [click to enlarge]

Terra/Aqua MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color images (above) showed that much of the smoke had moved over the adjacent offshore waters of the Atlantic Ocean on 16 November.

 

Fires in the southeast United States

November 7th, 2016 |
terramodis_truecolor_7nov2016

Terra MODIS True-Color Imagery over the Smoky Mountains, 7 November 2016 (Click to enlarge)

Persistent moderate to severe drought (shown here, from this site) over the southeastern United States has supported the development of fires in and around the Great Smoky Mountains on 7 November 2016. True-color imagery from Terra MODIS, above, (source: MODIS Today) showed the active fires and plumes of smoke spreading northward into the Ohio River Valley.

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color imagery also captured the smoke emanating from the active fires, and the Aerosol Optical Depth product, toggled below (data sources: RealEarth) showed the extent of the thickest smoke layer (click here for an animation that does not include the RealEarth framing).

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color image with fire detection locations (red dots), and VIIRS Aerosol Optical Depth product [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color image with fire detection locations (red dots), and VIIRS Aerosol Optical Depth product [click to enlarge]

A sequence of true-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) images from Terra MODIS (1643 UTC), Suomi NPP VIIRS (1809 UTC) and Aqua MODIS (1824 UTC) is shown below.

Terra MODIS, Suomi NPP VIIRS and Aqua MODIS true-color images [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS, Suomi NPP VIIRS and Aqua MODIS true-color images [click to enlarge]

The temporal evolution of the smoke was captured on GOES-13 Visible (0.63 µm) images (below; also available as an MP4 animation). Smoke reduced the surface visibility to 2.5 – 3.0 miles at some locations in Kentucky (KJKL | KLOZ) and Tennessee (KOQT), leading to EPA Air Quality Index values in the “Unhealthy” category.

GOES-13 Visible (0.63 µm) images; hourly surface weather symbols are plotted in yellow, with surface visibility (statute miles) plotted in cyan [click to play animation]

GOES-13 Visible (0.63 µm) images; hourly surface weather symbols are plotted in yellow, with surface visibility (statute miles) plotted in cyan [click to play animation]

===== 10 November Update =====

GOES-13 Visible (0.63 µm) images; hourly surface weather symbols are plotted in yellow, with surface visibility (statute miles) plotted in cyan [click to play animation]

GOES-13 Visible (0.63 µm) images; hourly surface weather symbols are plotted in yellow, with surface visibility (statute miles) plotted in cyan [click to play animation]

In the wake of a cold frontal passage on 09 November, northerly to northeasterly winds were transporting the smoke south-southwestward as the fires continued to burn on 10 November. GOES-13 Visible (0.63 µm) images, above, showed the dense smoke plumes — some of which were briefly reducing the surface visibility to less than 1 statute mile in far western North Carolina (Andrews | Franklin). In Georgia, smoke restricted the visibility to 2.5 miles as far south as Columbus.

A Pilot Report (PIREP) in northern Georgia at 1530 UTC, below, indicated that the top of the smoke layer was around 3500 feet (where the Flight Visibility was 4 miles).  Surface reports in the vicinity of that PIREP indicated a ceiling of 1500 to 1700 feet, suggesting that the dense smoke layer aloft was about 1800-2000 feet thick over northern Georgia.

GOES-13 Visible (0.63 µm) image, with cloud ceiling (hundreds of feet above ground level) and visibility (statute miles) plotted in cyan and a Pilot Report in yellow [click to enlarge]

GOES-13 Visible (0.63 µm) image, with cloud ceiling (hundreds of feet above ground level) and visibility (statute miles) plotted in cyan and a Pilot Report in yellow [click to enlarge]

The smoke plumes showed up very well on an Aqua MODIS true-color RGB image from the MODIS Today site, below.

Aqua MODIS true-color image [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS true-color image [click to enlarge]

The 1858 UTC Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color image (with fire detections) and the Aerosol Optical Depth product, below, depicted the aerial coverage of the smoke.

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color image (with fire detection locations in red) and Aerosol Optical Depth product [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color image (with fire detection locations in red) and Aerosol Optical Depth product [click to enlarge]