The King Fire in California

September 19th, 2014
Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color images

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color images

The King Fire began burning in central California (between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe) during the evening hours on 13 September 2014. A sequence of daily (12-19 September) Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) images from the SSEC RealEarth web map server site (above) showed that as the prevailing southwesterly wind pattern switched to easterly on 19 September, there was a major change in the transport of smoke from the King Fire. The final image in the series zooms out to show how much of central California had become over-run with thick smoke.

A comparison of AWIPS-II images of Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band and 3.74 µm shortwave IR image at 09:18 UTC or 2:18 AM local time (below) revealed the bright glow of the large fire complex, along with the large fire “hot spot” signature (black to yellow to red color enhancement).

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band and 3.74 µm shortwave IR images

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band and 3.74 µm shortwave IR images

Suomi NPP VIIRS 3.74 µm shortwave IR images during the overnight hours (just after 2 AM local time) on 17 and 18 September (below) showed the dramatic northeastward advance of the fire hot spot signature during that 24-hour period. Smoke from the fire was reducing the surface visibility to 3-4 miles as far to the northeast as Lovelock (KLOL) and Fallon (KNFL) in Nevada.

Suomi NPP VIIRS 3.74 µm shortwave IR images

Suomi NPP VIIRS 3.74 µm shortwave IR images

Happy Camp Fire in northern California

September 3rd, 2014
GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel images (click to play animation)

GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel images (click to play animation)

After being started by lightning on 11 August, the Happy Camp Fire Complex (Inciweb) continued to burn in far northern California on 03 September 2014. McIDAS images of GOES-15 (GOES-West) 0.63 µm visible channel data (above; click image to play animation) initially revealed the smoke which had settled into the area valleys during the previous night, and then showed a new smoke plume which drifted southwestward off the coast, then turned to the left and moved southward along the adjacent nearshore waters.  The smoke moved over Arcata/Eureka airport (KACV), at one point reducing the surface visibility to 6 miles.

As the fie continued to burn into the following night, an AWIPS II image of Suomi NPP VIIRS 3.74 shortwave IR channel data at 10:21 UTC (3:21 AM local time) showed the cluster of fire hot spots (black to yellow to red pixels), while the corresponding VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band image showed that the bright glow of the fire complex was as large and as intense as that from many of the larger cities in the region.

Suomi NPP VIIRS 3.74 µm shortwave IR and 0.7 µm Day/Night Band images

Suomi NPP VIIRS 3.74 µm shortwave IR and 0.7 µm Day/Night Band images

Slide Fire in Arizona

May 22nd, 2014
GOES-13 0.63 µm visible channel images (click to play animation)

GOES-13 0.63 µm visible channel images (click to play animation)

McIDAS images of GOES-13 (GOES-East) 0.63 µm visible channel data (above; click image to play animation) showed the rapid growth of the smoke plume from the Slide Fire which was burning in Arizona on 21 May 2014.

As the fire continued to burn into the night, a comparison of AWIPS images of 375-meter resolution Suomi NPP VIIRS 3.74 µm and 4-km resolution GOES-13 3.9 µm shortwave IR images (below) demonstrated the advantage of improved spatial resolution (and a more direct viewing angle) of the VIIRS data for determining both the intensity and the true location of the fire hot spots around 10 UTC or 4 am local time.

Suomi NPP VIIRS 3.74 µm and GOES-13 3.9 µm shortwave IR image comparison

Suomi NPP VIIRS 3.74 µm and GOES-13 3.9 µm shortwave IR image comparison

On the following morning, GOES-15 (GOES-West) 0.63 µm visible channel images (below; click to play animation) the smoke plume aloft and smoke which had settled into valleys could be seen during the early morning hours.

GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel images (click to play animation)

GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel images (click to play animation)

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) images from 21 May and 22 May are visualized using the SSEC RealEarth web map server (below). On 22 May, bands of high-altitude cirrus clouds were moving over the region, making the identification of the north/northwestward-moving smoke plume a bit more difficult.

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color RGB images (21 and 22 May)

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color RGB images (21 and 22 May)

Cyclonic transport of fire smoke over the Gulf of Alaska

May 21st, 2014
GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel images (click to play animation)

GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel images (click to play animation)

McIDAS images of GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel data (above; click image to play animation) showed the cyclonic transport of smoke across the Gulf of Alaska on 20 May 2014. The source of the smoke was the Funny River Fire that was burning on the Kenai Peninsula of south-central Alaska, near Soldotna. The fire quickly grew to 20,000 acres in about 24 hours.

The curved smoke plume was also quite evident on 3 separate Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band images (below). Smoke was reducing the surface visibility as low as 3 miles at Homer (station identifier PAHO).

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band images

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band images

Even though patchy clouds covered the Kenai Peninsula region around 13 UTC, the fire “hot spots” (black to yellow to red color enhancement) were still detectable on the VIIRS 3.74 µm shortwave IR image (below).

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band and 3.74 µm shortwave IR channel images

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band and 3.74 µm shortwave IR channel images