Large grass fires continue to burn in the southern Plains

April 17th, 2018 |

GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images, with hourly plots of surface reports [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images, with hourly plots of surface reports [click to play MP4 animation]

1-minute Mesoscale Sector GOES-16 (GOES-East) Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (above) showed a number of “hot spot” signatures (dark black to red pixels) associated with grass fires that began burning in southeastern Colorado, southwest Kansas and the Oklahoma/Texas Panhandles on 17 April 2018. These fires spread very rapidly with strong surface winds (as high as 81 mph at Wolf Creek Pass CO) and very dry fuels due to Extreme to Exceptional drought. In addition to these new fires, hot pixels from the ongoing Rhea Fire in northwest Oklahoma (which began burning on 12 April) were still apparent.

During the subsequent nighttime hours, a strong cold front plunged southeastward across the region (surface analyses) — and on a closer view of GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared images (below), 2 different behaviors were seen for 2 of the larger fires. As the cold front moved over the Badger Hole Fire that was burning along the Colorado/Kansas border, an immediate decreasing trend in hot spot intensity and coverage was noted. Farther to the southeast, when the cold front later moved over the Rhea Fire in northwest Oklahoma a flare-up in hot spot intensity and coverage was evident.

GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images, with hourly plots of surface reports [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images, with hourly plots of surface reports [click to play MP4 animation]

===== 18 April Update =====

A nighttime comparison of (Preliminary, Non-Operational) NOAA-20 VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm), I-Band Shortwave Infrared (3.75 µm), M-Band Shortwave Infrared (4.05 µm), and M-Band Near-Infrared (1.61 µm and 2.25 µm) images (below; courtesy of William Straka, CIMSS) showed a variety of fire detection signatures associated with the Rhea Fire (283,095 acres, 3% contained) in northwest Oklahoma.

NOAA-20 Day/Night Band (0.7 µm), I-Band Shortwave Infrared (3.75 µm), M-Band Shortwave Infrared (4.05 µm), M-Band Near-Infrared (1.61 µm and 2.25 µm) images [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm), I-Band Shortwave Infrared (3.75 µm), M-Band Shortwave Infrared (4.05 µm), M-Band Near-Infrared (1.61 µm and 2.25 µm) images [click to enlarge]

The early afternoon 1-km resolution Aqua MODIS Land Surface Temperature product (below) indicated that LST values within the Rhea burn scar (which covered much of Dewey County in Oklahoma) were as high as 100 to 105 ºF (darker red enhancement) — about 10 to 15 ºF warmer than adjacent unburned vegetated surfaces.

Aqua MODIS Land Surface Temperature product [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS Land Surface Temperature product [click to enlarge]

===== 19 April Update =====

A 30-meter resolution Landsat-8 false-color image from RealEarth (below) provided a detailed view of the Badger Hole Fire, which had burned 48,400 acres along the Colorado/Kansas border.

Landsat-8 false-color image [click to enlarge]

Landsat-8 false-color image [click to enlarge]

Wildfires in northeastern Oklahoma

March 24th, 2018 |

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm, left) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, right) images, with surface airport identifiers plotted in cyan [click to play MP4 animation)

GOES-16 (GOES-East) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (above) showed smoke plumes and fire “hot spots” associated with numerous wildfires burning in northeastern Oklahoma on 24 March 2018.

A comparison of Terra/Aqua MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared images (below) showed  higher-resolution view of the fire hot spots.

Terra/Aqua MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared images with surface observations plotted in cyan [click to enlarge]

Terra/Aqua MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared images with surface observations plotted in cyan [click to enlarge]

Gravity waves near Guadalupe Island

March 15th, 2018 |

GOES-16 Low-level (7.3 µm, left), Mid-level (6.9 µm, center) and Upper-level (6.2 µm, right) Water Vapor images [click to play animation]

GOES-16 Low-level (7.3 µm, left), Mid-level (6.9 µm, center) and Upper-level (6.2 µm, right) Water Vapor images [click to play animation]

GOES-16 (GOES-East) Low-level (7.3 µm), Mid-level (6.9 µm) and Upper-level (6.2 µm) Water Vapor images (above) revealed an interesting packet of gravity waves in the vicinity of Guadalupe Island (west of Baja California) on 15 March 2018. The mechanism forcing these waves was not entirely clear, making it a suitable candidate for the “What the heck is this?” blog category.

A similar animation of GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm), Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) and Upper-level Water Vapor (6.2 µm) images (below) did show some smaller-scale waves on Visible imagery within the marine boundary layer stratocumulus cloud field, but they did not appear to exhibit a direct correlation with the higher-altitude waves seen in the Water Vapor imagery. Surface winds were from the northwest at 10-15 knots, as a dissipating cold front was stalled over the region.

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm, left), Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm, center) and Upper-level Water Vapor (6.2 µm, right) images [click to play animation]

A larger-scale view of Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images (below) showed that these waves were located to the north of a jet streak axis — denoted by the sharp dry-to-moist gradient (yellow to blue enhancement) stretching from southwest to northeast as it moved over Baja California.

GOES-16 Mid-level (6.9 µm) Water Vapor images [click to play animation]

GOES-16 Mid-level (6.9 µm) Water Vapor images [click to play animation]

GOES-15 (GOES-West) Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images with overlays of upper-tropospheric atmospheric motion vectors and contours of upper-tropospheric divergence (below) indicated that Guadalupe Island was located within the “dry delta” signature often associated with a jet stream break — the inflection point between 2 strong jet streaks within a sharply-curved jet stream. Upper-tropospheric winds were from the west/northwest, with upper-tropospheric convergence seen over the region of the gravity waves.

GOES-15 Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images, with water vapor wind vectors [click to enlarge]

GOES-15 Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images, with atmospheric motion vectors [click to enlarge]

GOES-15 Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images, with contours of upper-tropospheric convergence [click to enlarge]

GOES-15 Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images, with contours of upper-tropospheric convergence [click to enlarge]

An early morning Aqua MODIS Water Vapor (6.7 µm) image with NAM80 contours of 250 hPa wind speed (below) showed the two 90-knot jet streaks on either side of the jet stream break — it could be that speed convergence due to rapidly decelerating air within the exit region of the western jet streak was a possible forcing mechanism of the gravity waves seen on the GOES-16 Water Vapor imagery.

Aqua MODIS Water Vapor (6.7 µm) image, with NAM80 contours of 250 hPa wind speed [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS Water Vapor (6.7 µm) image, with NAM80 contours of 250 hPa wind speed [click to enlarge]

Severe weather in the Mid-South, and heavy snow in the Upper Midwest

February 24th, 2018 |

GOES-16 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm), with hourly plots of surface weather type [click to play Animated GIF | MP4 also available]

GOES-16 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images, with hourly plots of surface weather type [click to play Animated GIF | MP4 also available]

GOES-16 (GOES-East) Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images (above) showed the flow of moisture from the lower Mississippi Valley into the Ohio Valley on 24 February 2018 — this fueled the development of flooding rainfall and severe thunderstorms (for more details, see the Satellite Liaison Blog). A special 21 UTC sounding from Little Rock AR indicated 37.3 mm or 1.47 inches of Total Precipitable Water (TPW) within the atmospheric column.

1-minute interval Mesoscale Sector GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images (below) revealed the development of a small supercell thunderstorm just north of the Kentucky/Tennessee border — this storm produced an EF-2  tornado that was responsible for 1 fatality (NWS Louisville damage survey). This (along with another in Arkansas) was the first US tornado-related death in 283 days (a new record in terms of length), with the last occurring in Wisconsin on 16 May 2017.

GOES-16 "Red" Visible<em> (0.64 µm, left)</em> and "Clean" Infrared Window <em>(10.3 µm, right)</em> images, with hourly surface reports plotted in yellow and SPC storm reports plotted in red [click to play Animated GIF | <a href="http://cimss.ssec.wisc.edu/goes/blog/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/180224_goes16_visible_infrared_spc_storm_reports_KY_TN_severe_anim.mp4"><strong>MP4</strong></a> also available]

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm, left) and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm, right) images, with hourly surface reports plotted in yellow and SPC storm reports plotted in red [click to play Animated GIF | MP4 also available]

Farther to the north, bands of elevated convection (oriented generally west to east) developed across Minnesota and Wisconsin, as seen in GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm) and Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images (below). Snowfall rates were 1-2 inches per hour at some locations, with many storm total accumulations of 7 to 9 inches. Note the small-scale “ripple structure” that was present along the tops of many of these convective bands (orthogonal to the long axis of each band).

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0/64 µm) images [click to play animation]

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Clean ” Infrared Widow (10.3 µm) images [click to play animation]

Comparisons of Terra and Aqua MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) and Infrared Window (11.0 µm) images (below) also showed these bands of elevated convection that helped to enhance snowfall rates. The layer of instability aloft was evident on the 00 UTC sounding from Chanhassen MN.

Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) and Infrared Window (11.0 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) and Infrared Window (11.0 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) and Infrared Window (11.0 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) and Infrared Window (11.0 µm) images [click to enlarge]