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]

Severe turbulence injures 24 on JetBlue Flight 429

August 11th, 2016

JetBlue Flight 429 flight path [click to enlarge]

JetBlue Flight 429 flight path [click to enlarge]

JetBlue Flight 429 encountered severe turbulence over south-central South Dakota around 0115 UTC on 12 August (7:15 pm local time on 11 August) 2016, which caused injuries to 22 passengers and 2 crew members (media story). The aircraft (flying from Boston MA to Sacramento CA) had to be diverted to Rapid City SD, as seen on the flight path map above (source: FlightAware.com).

GOES-13 Visible (0.63 µm) images, with pilot reports of turbulence [click to play animation]

GOES-13 Visible (0.63 µm) images, with pilot reports of turbulence [click to play animation]

1-km resolution GOES-13 Visible (0.63 µm) images (above) showed widespread thunderstorms across the region, with rapidly-developing new cells forming in the vicinity of the turbulence encounter. A Turbulence AIRMET had been issued around 23 UTC for that portion of the flight path, and Convective SIGMETs also advised of the potential for severe thunderstorms with tops above 45,000 feet (JetBlue 429 was cruising at an altitude of 32,000 feet).

The corresponding 4-km resolution GOES-13 Infrared Window (10.7 µm) images (below) indicated that cloud-top IR brightness temperatures were as cold as -54º C (orange color enhancement) just east of the pilot report at 0100 UTC.

GOES-13 Infrared Window (10.7 µm) images, with pilot reports of turbulence [click to play animation]

GOES-13 Infrared Window (10.7 µm) images, with pilot reports of turbulence [click to play animation]

1-km resolution POES AVHRR Visible (0.86 µm) and Infrared (12.0 µm) images at 0049 UTC (below) provided a more detailed view of the developing cells less than 30 minutes prior to the turbulence encounter.

POES AVHRR Visible (0.86 µm) and Infrared (12.0 µm) images, with pilot reports [click to enlarge]

POES AVHRR Visible (0.86 µm) and Infrared (12.0 µm) images, with pilot reports [click to enlarge]

Transverse banding: a signature of potential turbulence

July 20th, 2016

GOES-13 Infrared Window (10.7 um) images, pilot reports of turbulence, Turbulence AIRMET boundaries [click to play animation]

GOES-13 Infrared Window (10.7 um) images, pilot reports of turbulence, Turbulence AIRMET boundaries [click to play animation]

GOES-13 (GOES-East) Infrared Window (10.7 µm) images (above) showed the formation of tendrils of transverse banding along the northern semicircle of  decaying mesoscale convective systems as they moved eastward across Nebraska and Iowa on 19 July 2016. Pilot reports of turbulence are plotted on the images, along with Turbulence AIRMET polygons issued at 0800 UTC and 1400 UTC. Most of the pilot reports of turbulence were in the Light to Moderate category, although there was one report of Moderate to Severe intensity at 1612 UTC over eastern Iowa.

The corresponding GOES-13 Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images (below) perhaps highlighted the transverse banding features a bit better at times, since the weighting function for that spectral band generally peaks in the middle to upper troposphere where the transverse banding cloud features existed.

GOES-13 Water Vapor (6.5 um) images, pilot reports of turbulence, Turbulence AIRMET boundaries [click to play animation]

GOES-13 Water Vapor (6.5 um) images, pilot reports of turbulence, Turbulence AIRMET boundaries [click to play animation]

A sequence of Infrared Window images from POES AVHRR (10.8 µm) and Suomi NPP VIIRS (11.45 µm) (below) showed a higher-resolution view of the initial formation of transverse banding during the 0411 to 1008 UTC time period.

Infrared Window images from POES AVHRR (10.8 µm) and Suomi NPP VIIRS (11.45 µm) [click to enlarge]

Infrared Window images from POES AVHRR (10.8 µm) and Suomi NPP VIIRS (11.45 µm) [click to enlarge]

Shown below are two other types of satellite imagery that can be helpful for identifying the areal extent of transverse banding cloud features: the Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm), and the MODIS Cirrus band (1.37 µm). A similar Cirrus band will be part of the ABI instrument on GOES-R.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Infrared Window (11.45 µm) and Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Infrared Window (11.45 µm) and Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS Infrared Window (11.0 µm) and Cirrus (1.37 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS Infrared Window (11.0 µm) and Cirrus (1.37 µm) images [click to enlarge]