GOES-13 (GOES-East) Visible (0.63 µm) images (below) also displayed the dark smoke plume. The viewing angles from the 2 satellites were similar (~53 degrees from GOES-15 vs ~57 degrees from GOES-13), but the time sampling was slightly better from GOES-15 (due to the extra “SUB-CONUS” scan images at :11 and :41 minutes nearly every hour). Image frequency will be even better with the GOES-R series of satellites (beginning with GOES-16), with routine scans every 5 minutes; the visible image spatial resolution will also be improved (to 0.5 km, vs 1.0 km with the current GOES).MODIS Visible (0.645 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.7 µm) and Infrared Window (11.0 µm) images from a 2036 UTC overpass of the Aqua satellite (below) showed the black smoke cloud in the Visible, but there was no evidence of a fire “hot spot” in the Shortwave Infrared (the media report indicated that the fire was extinguished about 2 hours after it started, which would have been around or just before the time of the MODIS images). On the Infrared Window image, the smoke plume actually did exhibit a slightly colder (darker blue color enhancement) signature, which is unusual since conventional fire and wildfire smoke is normally transparent to thermal radiation. A view of the 250-meter resolution Aqua MODIS true-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) image from the MODIS Today site is shown below.
Even though cloud cover was increasing, a detailed view of the fire hot spot was provided by an AWIPS II image of 375-meter resolution Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) data at 1815 UTC on 28 November (below). An AWIPS I version of this image is available here. Due to the cloudiness, no discernible hot spot appeared on the lower-resolution 1815 UTC GOES-13 Shortwave Infrared image.Props to NWS meteorologist Carl Jones for spotting this somewhat unexpected result: the glow of the fire was evident on the following nighttime Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) image, even though there was a thick layer of clouds over the fire itself:
— Carl Jones (@northflwx) November 29, 2016
An AWIPS II image comparison of VIIRS Infrared Window (11.45 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) data at 0816 UTC on 29 November is shown below. Cloud-top Infrared Window brightness temperatures were in the -40 to -55º C range over the fire region (such air temperatures were foundd within the 9.5-10.5 km altitude range on the Nashville sounding when the cloud band was over central Tennessee at 00 UTC). While no fire hot spot signature was evident on the Shortwave Infrared image (due to masking by the clouds), the very distinct bright glow of the fire (which appeared rather large in size, due to scattering of light by the water and ice particles present in the various cloud layers) was seen on the Day/Night Band image. AWIPS I versions of these images are available here.Additional information is available on the Wildfire Today site (post 1 | post 2 | post 3 | post 4 | post 5).
GOES-15 can provide 3.9 µm imagery roughly 4 times per hour (when GOES-R is launched, shortwave infrared imagery will be produced every 5 minutes over the continental United States) allowing a better indication of how the fire is evolving with time. The animation below, from 0500 through 1530 UTC, shows a cooling trend in the warmest pixels (hottest pixels are colored red in the animation, then yellow, then black), which is expected as winds that drive the fire relax at night. There is notable motion in the navigation of this image. GOES-15 is operating with only 1 Star Tracker (vs. the usual 3), resulting in less-precise image navigation.Visible Imagery from GOES-15 after sunrise on 27 September shows a long smoke plume moving southeastward from the fire source.
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.