May 14th, 2013
GOES-13 0.63 µm visible channel (top) and 3.9 µm shortwave IR channel (bottom) images (click to play animation)
McIDAS images of GOES-13 0.63 µm visible channel and 3.9 µm shortwave IR channel data (above; click image to play animation) showed the large smoke plumes and fire “hot spots” (dark black pixels on the shortwave IR imagery) associated with the Germann Road Fire in northwestern Wisconsin and the Green Valley Fire in Minnesota on 14 May 2013. The Germann Road Fire burned 8495 acres, making it the largest wildfire in northern Wisconsin in 33 years. In Minnesota, the Green Valley fire burned 7100 acres.
Items of interest to note on the GOES-13 imagery: (1) the presence of a well-defined lake breeze (lighter gray color enhancement on the IR images) which extended quite a distance inland from the colder waters of Lake Superior (which still exhibited Sea Surface Temperature values in the middle to upper 30s F); (2) the change in wind direction from southwesterly to westerly/northwesterly as a frontal boundary moved eastward across the region; (3) the apparent “flare-up” of the Germann Road Fire as the frontal boundary arrived around 00:45 UTC — the size of the cluster of black “hot spot” pixels increased on the shortwave IR image, concurrent with the rapid growth of an area of pyrocumulus clouds; (4) the eastward motion of the thin lake ice that remained on Mille Lacs in Minnesota (the large lake just south of the Green Valley smoke plume).
2 days after the fire, the burn scar was apparent on an Aqua MODIS false-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) image (below), viewed using the SSEC Web Map Server. Note the “right turn”on the northern end of the burn scar, caused by a change from southwesterly winds to strong westerly winds in the wake of a frontal passage (which altered the direction of the fire’s progress).
Aqua MODIS false-color image showing wildfire location and burn scar
May 2nd, 2013
GOES-15 (left) and GOES-13 (right) 0.63 µm visible channel images (click image to play animation)
A comparison of McIDAS images of 1-km resolution GOES-15 (GOES-West) and GOES-13 (GOES-East) 0.63 µm visible channel data (above; click image to play animation) showed the smoke plume from the Springs Fire near Camarillo, California on 02 May 2013. GOES-15 (positioned over the Equator at 135º West longitude) had a better viewing angle of the smoke plume, while GOES-13 (positioned at 75º West longitude) was in Rapid Scan Operations (RSO) mode and was therefore able to provide more frequent images.
AWIPS images of 4-km resolution GOES-15 3.9 µm shortwave IR data (below; click image to play animation) showed the development and rapid growth of the fire “hot spot” signature (dark black enhancment) after 14:01 UTC (7:01 AM local time). At Point Mugu (station identifier KNTD), the surface winds gusted to 27 knots from the southwest at 17 UTC, then shifted and gusted to 30 knots from the northwest at 19 UTC, and then shifted again and gusted to 30 knots from the southwest at 20 UTC. Surface visibility at this site was reported to be as low as 2 miles to the north and northeast of the station, with an overcast layer of smoke during most of the day. Not far inland at Sandberg (station identifier KSDB), winds gusted to 46 knots and the dew point temperature dropped to -19º F (making for a relative humidity of 2%!).
GOES-15 3.9 µm shortwave IR images (click image to play animation)
===== 03 May Update =====
AWIPS images of 1-km resolution Suomi NPP VIIRS 3.74 µm shortwave IR and 0.7 µm Day/Night Band data at 09:41 UTC or 2:41 AM local time on 03 May (below) showed a very large fire “hot spot” (yellow to red to black color enhancement) on the shortwave IR image, and the Day/Night Band revealed the hazy signature of smoke aloft that had drifted offshore and south and southeastward along the southern California coast.
Suomi NPP VIIRS 3.74 µm shortwave IR and 0.7 µm Day/Night Band images
During the following afternoon on 03 May, 250-meter resolution true-color and false-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) images from the SSEC MODIS Today site (below) showed the dense smoke plume continuing to drift offshore; the hottest active fire regions appeared as light red features on the false-color image.
MODIS true-color and false-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) images
April 18th, 2013
GOES-13 3.9 µm shortwave IR image
A powerful and deadly explosion at a fertilizer plant in the city of West, Texas occurred on the evening of 17 April 2013. A thinning of the layered cloudiness across the region allowed the 4-km resolution GOES-13 3.9 µm shortwave IR channel image (above) to reveal a subtle “hot spot” (yellow color enhancement) signature of the large fire that burned into the night.
Shown below is a comparison of images from the Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band (DNB) at 08:00 UTC or 3:00 AM local time on 17 April (the night before the explosion) and 07:41 UTC or 2:41 AM local time on 18 April (the night after the explosion). The 18 April DNB image appears to display a brighter signal in the West, Texas area (circled), although it is unclear whether this brighter signal on the later Day/Night Band image is due to the fire, or the large amount of emergency response activity, or some combination of the two factors. The presence of optically-thick cloud layers across the region may also be playing a role in the apparent West, Texas brightness differences sensed by the DNB detectors; this effect is very notable in the city light signature of the Dallas/Ft.Worth area in the upper center portion of the 2 images.
Night-time Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band images on 17 April and 18 April