Wildfires in British Columbia

August 17th, 2018 |

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm, left) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, right) images [click to play MP4 animation]

A 2-panel comparison of GOES-16 (GOES-East) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (above) showed the smoke plumes and thermal anomalies or “hot spots” (darker black to red pixels) associated with a flare-up of wildfires in western British Columbia on 17 August 2018.

A sequence of Shortwave Infrared (3.7 µm) images from Terra / Aqua MODIS and Suomi NPP / NOAA-20 VIIRS (below) revealed the diurnal changes in areal coverage and intensity of the thermal signature of the fires.

Shortwave Infrared (3.7 µm) images from Terra / Aqua MODIS and Suomi NPP / NOAA-20 VIIRS [click to enlarge]

Shortwave Infrared (3.7 µm) images from Terra / Aqua MODIS and Suomi NPP / NOAA-20 VIIRS [click to enlarge]

Toggles between Visible and Shortwave Infrared images from Terra MODIS (1912 UTC), NOAA-20 VIIRS (1950 UTC) ans Suomi NPP VIIRS (2129 UTC) are shown below (note: the NOAA-20 images are incorrectly labeled as Suomi NPP). It is interesting to note the impact that the smoke plume had on the air temperature at Quesnel (CYQZ) — because the smoke layer was optically dense enough (VIIRS True Color image) to significantly reduce incoming solar radiation, the temperature was as much as 14-18ºF (8-10ºC) cooler than Prince George (CYXS) to the north and Williams Lake (CYWL) to the south.

Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.7 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.7 µm) images at 1912 UTC [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) images [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) images at 1950 UTC [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) images at 2129 UTC [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) images at 2129 UTC [click to enlarge]

Farther to the east in Alberta, thick smoke caused very poor air quality in cities like Edmonton and Grande Prairie (photo 1 | photo 2). Daily composites of Suomi NPP VIIRS True Color RGB images from 11 August to 17 August (below) revealed the transport of smoke across British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Daily composites of Suomi NPP VIIRS True Color RGB images (with VIIRS fire detections in red), 11-17 August [click to play MP4 | Animated GIF]

Daily composites of Suomi NPP VIIRS True Color RGB images (with VIIRS fire detections in red), 11-17 August [click to play MP4 | Animated GIF]

A time series of surface reports from Edmonton, Alberta covering the period 14-17 August (below) showed that smoke restricted the surface visibility there to 1.5 miles on 15 August and 17 August.

Time series of surface reports from Edmonton, Alberta during the period 14-17 August [click to enlarge]

Time series of surface reports from Edmonton, Alberta during the period 14-17 August [click to enlarge]

===== 19 August Update =====

* GOES-17 images shown here are preliminary and non-operational *

GOES-17 Near-Infrared

GOES-17 Near-Infrared “Cloud Particle Size” (2.24 µm, left) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, right) images [click to play 81 Mbyte MP4 animation]

A 2-panel comparison of GOES-17 Near-Infrared “Cloud Particle Size” (2.24 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images during the 7-day period of 13-19 August (above) showed the diurnal changes in thermal signatures of the ongoing British Columbia wildfires. The nighttime thermal signatures seen on the 2.24 µm images (brighter white pixels) result from the fact that this spectral band is located close to the peak emitted radiance of very hot features such as active volcanoes or large fires (below).

Plots of Spectral Response Functions for ABI Bands 5, 6 and 7 [click to enlarge]

Plots of Spectral Response Functions for ABI Bands 5, 6 and 7 [click to enlarge]

Large hail and high winds in South Dakota and Nebraska

July 27th, 2018 |

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images, with SPC storm reports plotted in red [click to play MP4 animation]

A supercell thunderstorm which developed in southeastern Montana during the afternoon hours on 27 July 2018 produced damaging wind-driven hail as it moved southeastward across western South Dakota into far northern Nebraska (SPC storm reports | NWS Rapid City summary). 1-minute Mesoscale Domain Sector GOES-16 (GOES-East) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images (above) showed the evolution of this storm.

The corresponding GOES-16 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images (below) revealed minimum cloud-top infrared brightness temperatures in the -60 to -70ºC range (darker red to black enhancement) with the strongest pulses of overshooting tops. The storm began to exhibit a well-defined “enhanced-V” signature once it crossed the South Dakota / Nebraska border after about 0200 UTC.

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images, with SPC storm reports plotted in purple [click to play MP4 animation]

 


===== 30 July Update =====

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

Terra MODIS True Color and False Color RGB images, with hail damage swath highlighted by red arrows [click to enlarge]

A comparison of 250-meter resolution Terra MODIS True Color and False Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images from the MODIS Today site (above) showed the northwest-to-southeast hail damage swath across southwestern South Dakota on 30 July.

Before/after (16/30 July) comparisons of MODIS True Color RGB images viewed using RealEarth and MODIS Today (below) further illustrate the appearance of the hail damage swath.

MODIS True Color RGB images from 16 July and 30 July [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS True Color RGB images from 16 July and 30 July [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS True Color RGB images from 16 and 30 July [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS True Color RGB images from 16 July and 30 July [click to enlarge]

In a comparison between the 30 July Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) image and the corresponding Land Surface Temperature (LST) and Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) products (below), within the core of the hail damage swath (near Oglala) LST values warmed into the 90s F and NDVI values were reduced to the 0.2 to 0.3 range (compared to cooler LST values in the 80s F and higher NDVI values of 0.3 to 0.6 over healthy vegetation areas immediately adjacent to the damage swath).

Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) image and Land Surface Temperature and Normalized Difference Vegetation Index products [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) image and Land Surface Temperature and Normalized Difference Vegetation Index products [click to enlarge]

===== 31 July Update =====

MODIS True Color RGB images from Terra (14 July) and Aqua (31 July) [click to enlarge]

MODIS True Color RGB images from Terra (14 July) and Aqua (31 July) [click to enlarge]

In a better, more cloud-free before/after comparison of MODIS True Color images from 14 and 31 July (above), it can be seen that the NW-SE oriented hail damage swath extended into Nebraska (where hail as large as 3.0 inches was reported).

Cloud-top “warm trench” infrared signature over Colorado

July 22nd, 2018 |

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images, with plots of surface reports [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images (above) revealed a well-defined “warm trench” signature (ring of brighter red enhancement) surrounding the cold overshooting top (cluster of pixels enhanced as black to lighter shades of gray) of a thunderstorm in far eastern Colorado during the nighttime hours on 22 July 2018. This warm trench appears to be a ring of compensating subsidence immediately surrounding the vigorous overshooting top; the cold/warm (overshooting_top/warm_trench) “delta-T” on the 0412 UTC image was 16.4ºC (-85.5ºC / -67.1ºC). Just to the south, at 0453 UTC there was a northerly peak wind gust to 45 knots or 52 mph at KITR (Burlington Colorado: plot | text) as the updraft supporting the overshooting top collapsed — but no other SPC storm reports were seen in that area.

A 250-meter resolution Terra MODIS Infrared Window (11.0 µm) imageat 0402 UTC (below) with a slightly different color enhancement showed similar delta-T values (-81ºC/-67ºC) with the overshooting top / warm trench. The diameter of the warm trench was approximately 30-40 miles.

Terra MODIS Infrared Window (11.0 µm) image, with plots of surface reports [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS Infrared Window (11.0 µm) image, with plots of surface reports [click to enlarge]

A plot of 00 UTC rawinsonde data from North Platte, Nebraska (below) showed a tropopause temperature of -73ºC at an altitude of 15.7 km or 51,500 feet — so the much colder infrared brightness temperatures seen on GOES and MODIS imagery were indicative of a very robust overshooting top that penetrated the tropopause a significant distance.

Plot of 00 UTC rawinsonde data from North Platte, Nebraska [click to enlarge]

Plot of 00 UTC rawinsonde data from North Platte, Nebraska [click to enlarge]

The GOES-16 Cloud Top Height product at 0412 UTC (below) indicated values of 54,000 ft / 49,000 ft for the cold overshooting top / warm trench features — however, note that the resolution of this infrared-derived product is 10 km (and the accuracy is within 1500 feet).

GOES-16 Cloud Top Height derived product at 0412 UTC [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 Cloud Top Height derived product at 0412 UTC [click to enlarge]

Another interesting (and yet-to-be-explained) feature was an arc of warming cloud-top infrared brightness temperatures that was seen propagating southwestward toward the overshooting top / warm trench signature. A larger-scale view (below) showed this wave feature moving from southwestern Nebraska at around 02 UTC to southern Colorado/Kansas by 10 UTC.

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images, with 11.2 µm infrared Derived Motion Winds [click to play animation | MP4]

This cloud-top wave feature was also apparent on GOES-16 Upper-level Water Vapor (6.2 µm) images (below) — at times the wave was tracked by Derived Motion Winds at speeds of 20-30 knots (0252 UTC | 0337 UTC | 0922 UTC). According to rawinsonde data from Dodge City, Kansas (plot | data) as well as North Platte, winds with a northerly to easterly component were only found at altitudes of 20 km or higher!

GOES-16 Upper-level Water Vapor (6.2 µm) images, with 6.2 µm water vapor Derived Motion Winds [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Upper-level Water Vapor (6.2 µm) images, with 6.2 µm water vapor Derived Motion Winds [click to play animation | MP4]

Special thanks to NWS Grand Rapids forecasters Brett Borchardt and TJ Turnage for bringing this case to our attention!

Southwest US monsoon convection: GOES-15 vs GOES-16

July 12th, 2018 |

GOES-15 Visible (0.63 µm, left) and GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm, right) images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-15 Visible (0.63 µm, left) and GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm, right) images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-15 (GOES-West) Visible (0.63 µm) and GOES-16 (GOES-East) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images — displayed in the native projection of each satellite, and centered on Las Vegas, Nevada — are shown above, depicting the development of deep convection across parts of the Desert Southwest on 12 July 2018. While the GOES-15 satellite was in Rapid Scan Operations mode (providing 2 extra images nearly every hour, at :11 and :41), a GOES-16 Mesoscale Sector was providing images at 1-minute intervals. Numerous flash flood watches, warnings and advisories were issued by NWS Las Vegas during the course of the day as some of the storms produced heavy rainfall (with as much as 0.75 inch at Cal Nev Ari and 0.61 inch at Needles, California KEED).

Note that the GOES-15 Visible images do not appear as bright as those from GOES-16 — prior to the GOES-R Series of satellites, the performance of visible detectors degraded over time, leading to imagery that appeared more dim as the Imager instrument aged. Visible detectors on the new ABI instrument benefit from on-orbit calibration to remedy this type of degradation.

The corresponding GOES-15 Infrared Window (10.7 µm) and GOES-16 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images (below) revealed cloud-top infrared brightness temperatures around -70ºC (black enhancement) associated with some the stronger thunderstorms; this was the tropopause temperature at an altitude of 16.7 km / 48,300 feet on 00 UTC Las Vegas rawinsonde data. The improvement in spatial resolution from 4 km (at satellite sub-point) with GOES-15 to 2 km with GOES-16 is very apparent — even though the satellite viewing angle is about 10 degrees higher for GOES-16 than it is for GOES-15.

GOES-15 Infrared Window (10.7 µm, left) and GOES-16 "Clean" Infrared Window (10.3 µm, right) images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-15 Infrared Window (10.7 µm, left) and GOES-16 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm, right) images [click to play MP4 animation]

Higher spatial resolution Infrared Window images from Terra/Aqua MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS (below) revealed a cloud-top infrared brightness temperature as cold as -79ºC in far northwestern Arizona on the 2017 UTC VIIRS image.

Infrared Window images from Terra/Aqua MODIS (11.0 µm) and Suomi NPP VIIRS (11.45 µm) [click to enlarge]

Infrared Window images from Terra/Aqua MODIS (11.0 µm) and Suomi NPP VIIRS (11.45 µm) [click to enlarge]

In addition to heavy rainfall, some thunderstorm winds created areas of blowing sand:

The GOES-16 Total Precipitable Water derived product (below) showed that rich moisture was present across the Desert Southwest, fueling the development of the widespread convection. TPW values in the 1.0 to 2.0 inch range were seen over southeastern California, southwestern Arizona and far southern Nevada.

GOES-16 Total Precipitable Water derived product [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 Total Precipitable Water derived product [click to play MP4 animation]

A 4-km resolution Terra/Aqua MODIS Total Precipitable Water product (below) indicated values in the 40-55 mm or 1.6-2.2 inch range.

Terra/Aqua MODIS Total Precipitable Water product [click to enlarge]

Terra/Aqua MODIS Total Precipitable Water product [click to enlarge]