Large grass fires continue to burn in the southern Plains

April 17th, 2018 |

GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images, with hourly plots of surface reports [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images, with hourly plots of surface reports [click to play MP4 animation]

1-minute Mesoscale Sector GOES-16 (GOES-East) Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (above) showed a number of “hot spot” signatures (dark black to red pixels) associated with grass fires that began burning in southeastern Colorado, southwest Kansas and the Oklahoma/Texas Panhandles on 17 April 2018. These fires spread very rapidly with strong surface winds (as high as 81 mph at Wolf Creek Pass CO) and very dry fuels due to Extreme to Exceptional drought. In addition to these new fires, hot pixels from the ongoing Rhea Fire in northwest Oklahoma (which began burning on 12 April) were still apparent.

During the subsequent nighttime hours, a strong cold front plunged southeastward across the region (surface analyses) — and on a closer view of GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared images (below), 2 different behaviors were seen for 2 of the larger fires. As the cold front moved over the Badger Hole Fire that was burning along the Colorado/Kansas border, an immediate decreasing trend in hot spot intensity and coverage was noted. Farther to the southeast, when the cold front later moved over the Rhea Fire in northwest Oklahoma a flare-up in hot spot intensity and coverage was evident.

GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images, with hourly plots of surface reports [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images, with hourly plots of surface reports [click to play MP4 animation]

===== 18 April Update =====

A nighttime comparison of (Preliminary, Non-Operational) NOAA-20 VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm), I-Band Shortwave Infrared (3.75 µm), M-Band Shortwave Infrared (4.05 µm), and M-Band Near-Infrared (1.61 µm and 2.25 µm) images (below; courtesy of William Straka, CIMSS) showed a variety of fire detection signatures associated with the Rhea Fire (283,095 acres, 3% contained) in northwest Oklahoma.

NOAA-20 Day/Night Band (0.7 µm), I-Band Shortwave Infrared (3.75 µm), M-Band Shortwave Infrared (4.05 µm), M-Band Near-Infrared (1.61 µm and 2.25 µm) images [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm), I-Band Shortwave Infrared (3.75 µm), M-Band Shortwave Infrared (4.05 µm), M-Band Near-Infrared (1.61 µm and 2.25 µm) images [click to enlarge]

The early afternoon 1-km resolution Aqua MODIS Land Surface Temperature product (below) indicated that LST values within the Rhea burn scar (which covered much of Dewey County in Oklahoma) were as high as 100 to 105 ºF (darker red enhancement) — about 10 to 15 ºF warmer than adjacent unburned vegetated surfaces.

Aqua MODIS Land Surface Temperature product [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS Land Surface Temperature product [click to enlarge]

===== 19 April Update =====

A 30-meter resolution Landsat-8 false-color image from RealEarth (below) provided a detailed view of the Badger Hole Fire, which had burned 48,400 acres along the Colorado/Kansas border.

Landsat-8 false-color image [click to enlarge]

Landsat-8 false-color image [click to enlarge]

Grass fires in northwest and southwest Oklahoma

April 12th, 2018 |

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm, top) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, bottom) images, with hourly plots of surface reports [click to play MP4 animation]

1-minute Mesoscale Sector GOES-16 (GOES-East) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (above) showed the development and rapid spread of grass fires in northwest Oklahoma on 12 April 2018. Hot fire pixels are highlighted as red on the Shortwave Infrared images — and the rapid northeastward run of the larger fires was very evident. The intense heat of the fires produced pyrocumulus clouds, which could be seen on the Visible images. Additional images are available on the Satellite Liaison Blog.

SPC had highlighted parts of New Mexico, Colorado, Texas and Oklahoma as having conditions favorable for Extreme wildfire behavior due to strong winds, hot temperatures and very dry air behind a dryline boundary (below). Note that the surface temperature / dew point depression at Woodward, Oklahoma (KWWR) at 2255 UTC on 12 April was 100 ºF (temperature = 97 ºF, dew point = -2 ºF), with southwesterly winds gusting to 35 knots or 40 mph.

SPC Day 1 Fire Outlook [click to enlarge]

SPC Day 1 Fire Outlook [click to enlarge]

===== 13 April Update =====

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images [click to enlarge]

The fires in northwestern Oklahoma continued to burn into the following night — Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images at 0837 UTC or 3:37 AM local time (above) revealed the bright glow and hot fire pixels associated with the 2 large fire complexes in Woodward County (34 Complex Fire) and Dewey County (Rhea Fire). At least 2 fatalities (Wildfire Today | media report) have been attributed to the larger and longer-burning Rhea Fire in Dewey County (which had burned an estimated 241,280 acres by mid-day on 14 April).

During the following daytime hours of 13 April, GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (below) showed the smoke plumes and hot pixels of the northwestern Oklahoma fires. The surface cold front moved over these fires around 18 UTC, with smoke transport transitioning more toward the east then southeast.

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm, top) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, bottom) images, with hourly plots of surface reports [click to play MP4 animation]

Farther to the southwest, new grass fires which began burning west of the Texas/Oklahoma border after 17 UTC quickly raced eastward and crossed the border into southwestern Oklahoma after 20 UTC (below).

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm, top) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, bottom) images, with hourly plots of surface reports [click to play MP4 animation]

===== 14 April Update =====

Three nighttime comparisons of (Preliminary, non-operational) NOAA-20 and Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.75 µm) images — each image pair separated by 50 minutes — (below; courtesy of William Straka, CIMSS) showed the bright glow and thermal hot spots of the ongoing Rhea fire complex.

NOAA-20 VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.75 µm) images at 0737 UTC [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.75 µm) images at 0737 UTC [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.75 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.75 µm) images [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.75 µm) images [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.75 µm) images [click to enlarge]

===== 15 April Update =====

250-meter resolution Terra MODIS true-color and false-color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images from MODIS Today (below) showed the burn scars from the 34 Complex and the larger Rhea Fire at 1719 UTC on 15 April 2018.

Terra MODIS true-color and false-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS true-color and false-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

Icebreaking in Whitefish Bay on Lake Superior

March 24th, 2018 |

GOES-16 ABI Band 2 “Red” (0.64 µm) Visible imagery, 2202 UTC on 22 and 23 March 2018 (Click to enlarge)

Dan Miller, the Science and Operations Officer (SOO) in Duluth sent the imagery above. Constant icebreaking has been ongoing on Whitefish Bay prior to the opening of the SOO Locks this weekend. A faint black line representing open water is apparent in the 22 March imagery, and it’s even more apparent in the 23 March imagery.

A toggle below, from 24 March 2018, shows the Band 2 “Red” (0.64 µm) Visible and the Band 5 “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm) Near-Infrared images. The open water is apparent in both images — dark in contrast to the white snow and lake ice in the visible, darker than the adjacent ice in the 1.61 µm. Recall that horizontal resolution in Band 2 is 0.5 km at the sub-satellite point (nadir), and in Band 5 it is 1 km.

GOES-16 ABI Band 2 “Red” (0.64 µm) Visible and Band 5 “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm) near-infrared imagery, 2202 UTC on 22 and 23 March 2018 (Click to enlarge)

Suomi NPP and NOAA-20 also viewed the icebroken path on 24 March, and favorable orbit geometry for NOAA-20 and Suomi NPP on 24 March (orbit paths from this site) meant 2 sequential passes from both satellites both viewed Whitefish Bay. The 4 images are shown in an animation below, with imagery from NOAA-20 first, then Suomi NPP (the labels all say Suomi NPP erroneously). Note that NOAA-20 data are provisional, non-operational, and undergoing testing still).

VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) Imagery from NOAA-20 (1708, 1846 UTC) and Suomi-NPP (1756, 1937 UTC) on 24 March 2018 (Click to enlarge)

The break in the ice was also visible in Day Night Band Imagery from VIIRS at 0722 UTC (from NOAA-20) on 24 March 2018.  It is also apparent in the shortwave Infrared imagery from both GOES-16 (very subtly) and from VIIRS (which offers better spatial resolution).

The icebreaking track was also apparent on 250-meter resolution Terra MODIS True-color and False-color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images from the MODIS Today site (below). In the False-color image, ice and snow (in areas of sparse vegetation) show up as shades of cyan.

Terra MODIS True-color and False-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS True-color and False-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

Gravity waves near Guadalupe Island

March 15th, 2018 |

GOES-16 Low-level (7.3 µm, left), Mid-level (6.9 µm, center) and Upper-level (6.2 µm, right) Water Vapor images [click to play animation]

GOES-16 Low-level (7.3 µm, left), Mid-level (6.9 µm, center) and Upper-level (6.2 µm, right) Water Vapor images [click to play animation]

GOES-16 (GOES-East) Low-level (7.3 µm), Mid-level (6.9 µm) and Upper-level (6.2 µm) Water Vapor images (above) revealed an interesting packet of gravity waves in the vicinity of Guadalupe Island (west of Baja California) on 15 March 2018. The mechanism forcing these waves was not entirely clear, making it a suitable candidate for the “What the heck is this?” blog category.

A similar animation of GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm), Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) and Upper-level Water Vapor (6.2 µm) images (below) did show some smaller-scale waves on Visible imagery within the marine boundary layer stratocumulus cloud field, but they did not appear to exhibit a direct correlation with the higher-altitude waves seen in the Water Vapor imagery. Surface winds were from the northwest at 10-15 knots, as a dissipating cold front was stalled over the region.

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm, left), Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm, center) and Upper-level Water Vapor (6.2 µm, right) images [click to play animation]

A larger-scale view of Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images (below) showed that these waves were located to the north of a jet streak axis — denoted by the sharp dry-to-moist gradient (yellow to blue enhancement) stretching from southwest to northeast as it moved over Baja California.

GOES-16 Mid-level (6.9 µm) Water Vapor images [click to play animation]

GOES-16 Mid-level (6.9 µm) Water Vapor images [click to play animation]

GOES-15 (GOES-West) Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images with overlays of upper-tropospheric atmospheric motion vectors and contours of upper-tropospheric divergence (below) indicated that Guadalupe Island was located within the “dry delta” signature often associated with a jet stream break — the inflection point between 2 strong jet streaks within a sharply-curved jet stream. Upper-tropospheric winds were from the west/northwest, with upper-tropospheric convergence seen over the region of the gravity waves.

GOES-15 Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images, with water vapor wind vectors [click to enlarge]

GOES-15 Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images, with atmospheric motion vectors [click to enlarge]

GOES-15 Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images, with contours of upper-tropospheric convergence [click to enlarge]

GOES-15 Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images, with contours of upper-tropospheric convergence [click to enlarge]

An early morning Aqua MODIS Water Vapor (6.7 µm) image with NAM80 contours of 250 hPa wind speed (below) showed the two 90-knot jet streaks on either side of the jet stream break — it could be that speed convergence due to rapidly decelerating air within the exit region of the western jet streak was a possible forcing mechanism of the gravity waves seen on the GOES-16 Water Vapor imagery.

Aqua MODIS Water Vapor (6.7 µm) image, with NAM80 contours of 250 hPa wind speed [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS Water Vapor (6.7 µm) image, with NAM80 contours of 250 hPa wind speed [click to enlarge]