The nearby Vandenberg rawinsonde data profile (below) suggests that the pyroCu clouds vertically lofted smoke to an altitude of at least 6.7 km (the 449 mb pressure level), where winds shifted to a northwesterly direction. However, since the pyroCu cloud-top IR brightness temperatures never even made it to -20º C (cyan color enhancement on the bottom panels), the smoke probably wasn’t much higher than the 6.7 km altitude (sounding data).A comparison of Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color and false-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) images displayed using RealEarth (below) showed the dense plume of smoke drifting westward away from the active fire area (brighter shades of pink on the false-color image), along with a pyroCu cloud over the fire and the early stage of the southeastward-moving smoke plume aloft.
However, a 1-km resolution NOAA-19 AVHRR 10.8 µm Infrared Window image (below; courtesy of René Servranckx) revealed a minimum cloud-top IR brightness temperature of -48.3º C (dark green color enhancement).A larger-scale comparison of the NOAA-19 AVHRR visible, shortwave infrared and infrared window images is shown below.
===== 23 August Update =====The Pioneer Fire continued to be very active on 22 August (exceeding 100,000 acres in total burn coverage since its start on 18 July), sending a large amount of smoke northeastward (OMPS Aerosol Index). During the following overnight hours, cold air drainage and the development of a boundary layer temperature inversion acted to trap a good deal of smoke in the Payette River valley to the west/southwest of Stanley KSNT. The active fire hot spots (black to yellow to red pixels) were evident on nighttime (1032 UTC or 4:32 AM local time) images (above) of Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) data, while illumination from the Moon (in the Waning Gibbous phase, at 69% of Full) showed the ribbon of smoke trapped in the valley (note that this signal was not due to fog, since it did not show up in the VIIRS 11.45-3.74 µm brightness temperature difference or “fog/stratus product”).
During the subsequent daytime hours of 23 August, 1-minute GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images (below; also available as a large 114 Mbyte animated GIF) showed the gradual ventilation of smoke from the Payette River valley as the temperature inversion eroded and mixing via winds increased.
Shown below is a comparison of GOES-15 (GOES-West), GOES-14 and GOES-13 (GOES-East) Visible images covering the longer 1-hour period of 1230-1330 UTC, focusing on a area of thunderstorms over North Texas. During this time, there are 53 images from GOES-14, compared to 7 images from GOES-15 and 5 images from GOES-13 — note how the evolution of overshooting tops is very easy to follow using the 1-minute GOES-14 imagery.GOES-14 also monitored the dissipation of fog/low stratus clouds over Nebraska, as seen in the animation below. Additional details can be found here. Later in the day, the GOES-14 Visible (0.62 µm) animation below (also available as a large 62 Mbyte animated GIF) showed the development of severe thunderstorms in Montana and Wyoming, which produced several reports of damaging winds and large hail (up to 4.0 inches in diameter). This example is particularly noteworthy due to the fact that the storm was well-sampled by satellite imagery in a region of poor radar coverage (h/t to @DanLindsey77). For additional details on this case, see the VISIT Meteorological Interpretation Blog. A 3-panel comparison of Visible images from GOES-15 and GOES-13 (available at the routine 15-30 minute interval) and GOES-14 (available at 1-minute intervals) is shown below. During the early afternoon hours, the GOES-15 (GOES-West) satellite performed a “North/South Station Keeping maneuver”, during which there was no imaging between 1700-1900 UTC. To help cover for this outage, the GOES-13 (GOES-East) satellite was paced into Full Disk scan mode, which provided only 1 image every 30 minutes. During this time period, the 1-minute imagery from GOES-14 (shown below) was essential to monitor such features as a wildfire burning southeast of Ely, Nevada (station identifier KELY). Two apparent flare-ups of the fire were seen in the areal coverage of the hottest pixels (red) on GOES-14 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images at 1805 UTC and 1807 UTC, which were not captured by the 30-minute GOES-13 imagery. In fact, the 1745 UTC GOES-13 Shortwave Infrared image suggested that there was a brief reduction in the intensity of the fire (indicated by a lack of red pixels), which was not the case according to the 1-minute GOES-14 imagery.