True-color RGB images from Terra MODIS, Suomi NPP VIIRS and Aqua MODIS, viewed using RealEarth (below) revealed the long ash plume during the late morning and early afternoon on 25 March. The dark signature of ash fall onto the snow-covered terrain was evident on the Terra and Aqua images, just west of the high-altitude ash plume.26 March Update: a closer view of Terra MODIS true-color images from 25 and 26 March (below) showed that the perimeter of the darker gray surface ash fall signature had fanned out in both the west and east directions.
The ABI instrument on GOES-16 is able to scan 2 Mesoscale Sectors, each of which provides images at 1-minute intervals. For what was likely a prescribed burn in the Francis Marion National Forest (near the coast of South Carolina) on 19 March 2017, a comparison of 1 minute Mesoscale Sector GOES-16 and 15-30 minute Routine Scan GOES-13 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (above; also available as a 50 Mbyte animated GIF) demonstrated the clear advantage of 1-minute imagery in terms of monitoring the short-term intensity fluctuations that are often exhibited by fire activity. In this case, the intensity of the fire began to increase during 15:15-15:45 UTC — a time period when there was a 30-minute gap in routine scan imagery from GOES-13. The GOES-16 shortwave infrared brightness temperature then became very hot (red enhancement) beginning at 15:46:58 UTC, which again was not captured by GOES-13 — even on the 16:00 UTC and later images (however, this might be due to the more coarse 4-km spatial resolution of GOES-13, compared to the 2-km resolution of the shortwave infrared band on GOES-16). Similar short-term intensity fluctuations of a smaller fire (burning just to the southwest) were not adequately captured by GOES-13.
The corresponding GOES-16 vs GOES-13 Visible image comparison (below; also available as a 72 Mbyte animated GIF) also showed the advantage of 1-minute scans, along with the improved 0.5-km spatial resolution of the 0.64 µm spectral band on GOES-16 (which allowed brief pulses of pyrocumulus clouds to be seen developing over the fire source region).The rapid south-southeastward spread of the smoke plume could also be seen on true-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) images from Terra/Aqua MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS, as viewed using RealEarth (below).
A Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) image (above) revealed the formative stage of a mesoscale vortex over Lake Michigan at 0740 UTC or 2:40 AM Central time on 12 March 2017.
During the subsequent daylight hours, GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm) images (below) showed the continued development and motion of the mesovortex.
2.5hr GOES-16 1min resolution animation of a meso-low over southern Lake MI this morning (Data is preliminary & non-operaitonal). pic.twitter.com/mJrmphY6SD
— NWS Marquette (@NWSMarquette) March 12, 2017
As was shown in a Tweet from NWS Marquette (above), beginning at 1741 UTC one of the GOES-16 Mesoscale Sectors was moved far enough northward to provide 1-minute imagery of the mesovortex (below; also available as an MP4 animation).At South Haven, Michigan (KLWA), the surface visibility was reduced to 5 miles with light snow at 2014 UTC (below) as one of the more well-defined cloud elements associated with the mesovorex moved inland over that location.
Widespread grass fires began to burn across parts of southwestern Kansas, northwestern Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle on 06 March 2017. The fires grew very quickly during the late morning and early afternoon hours, due to strong southwesterly winds (with gusts as high as 67 mph in Oklahoma) behind a dryline (surface analyses); a cold front then moved southward across the region during the late afternoon and evening hours, bringing strong northerly/northwesterly winds. In a comparison shown above of Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images — 1-minute interval (Mesoscale Sector) 2-km resolution GOES-16 vs. 5-7 minute interval (Rapid Scan Operations) 4-km resolution GOES-13 (also available as a 204 Mbyte animated GIF) — a large fire (the Starbuck Fire) can be seen making a fast northeastward run from Oklahoma into Kansas behind the dryline; then, after the passage of the cold front, the leading edge of that and another large fire turned southward and moved from Kansas back into Oklahoma. Another large fire in the Texas Panhandle (the Perryton Fire) moved rapidly eastward and crossed the border into Oklahoma. At least 7 deaths have resulted from these fires (CNN).
===== 07 March Update =====
The large size of the grass fire burn scars could be seen in comparisons of true-color and false-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) images from Terra MODIS (1732 UTC), Suomi NPP VIRS (1857 UTC) and Aqua MODIS (1912 UTC) images viewed using RealEarth (below).The creation of true-color and false-color images such as these will be possible using the ABI spectral bands available on GOES-16 and the GOES-R series of satellites. A separate blog post highlighting other multi-spectral GOES-16 views of these fire burn scars on 07 March is available here.