Camp Fire in northern California

November 8th, 2018 |

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm, top left), Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, top right), “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm, bottom left) and Fire Temperature (bottom right) [click to play animation | MP4]

The Camp Fire started at 1433 UTC or 6:33 AM local time on 08 November 2018 in Northern California; the rapid spread of the fire prompted evacuations and forced road closures. GOES-16 (GOES-East) GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm), “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) and Fire Temperature (above) showed the evolution of the fire at 5-minute intervals — especially noteworthy were the rapid vertical jump of the smoke column seen at 1547 UTC (which cast a long shadow), and Fire Temperature values that exceeded 2000 K (bright red pixels) at numerous times with a maximum value just over 2300 K.

A GOES-16 Mesoscale Domain Sector was positioned over California beginning at 2115 UTC, providing imagery at 1-minute intervals — a comparison of Visible and Shortwave Infrared images (below) showed how quickly the hot thermal signature of the fire (yellow to red enhancement) advanced southwestward during the remaining 3 hours of daylight. Just northwest of the fire, Chico (station identifier KCIC) reported very low relative humidity values (6% at 21 UTC), as seen by the large spread between temperature and dewpoint late in the day.

GOES-16

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

1-km resolution NOAA-18 AVHRR Visible (0.64 µm), Near-Infrared “Vegetation” (0.86 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.7 µm) and Infrared Window (10.8 µm) images (below) showed the bifurcation of the smoke plume as well as the large, very hot thermal signature of the fire at 1712 UTC or 9:12 AM local time.

NOAA-18 AVHRR Visible (0.64 µm), Near-Infrared "Vegetation" (0.86 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.7 µm) and Infrared Window (10.8 µµ) images [click to enlarge]

NOAA-18 AVHRR Visible (0.64 µm), Near-Infrared “Vegetation” (0.86 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.7 µm) and Infrared Window (10.8 µm) images [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 Visible (0.64 µm), Near-Infrared

NOAA-20 VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm), Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Higher spatial resolution views were provided by NOAA-20 VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm), Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images (above) and by Aqua MODIS Visible (0.65 µm), Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm) and Infrared Window (11.0 µm) images (below). [Note: the NOAA-20 VIIRS images are incorrectly labeled as Suomi NPP]

Aqua MODIS Visible (0.65 µm), Near-Infrared

Aqua MODIS Visible (0.65 µm), Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm) and Infrared Window (11.0 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Alternative views of the NOAA-20 VIIRS and Aqua MODIS images are shown below (using legacy AWIPS-1).They include Shortwave Infrared images from the 2 satellites, which reveal the very large (approximately 10 miles in length) thermal anomaly or fire “hot spot”. Due to the very dry atmosphere over the region (MODIS 6.7 µm Water Vapor image), the smoke could be clearly seen on the MODIS 1.37 µm Cirrus image (since there was very little attenuation of upwelling 1.37 µm radiation by middle/upper-tropospheric water vapor).

NOAA-20 Visible (0.64 µm), Day/Night Band (0.7 µm), Near-Infrared "Snow/Ice" (1.61 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 Visible (0.64 µm), Day/Night Band (0.7 µm), Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS Visible (0.65 µm), Near-Infrared "Cirrus" (1.37 µm), Near-Infrared "Snow/Ice" (1.61 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.7 µm) and Infrared Window (11.0 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS Visible (0.65 µm), Near-Infrared “Cirrus” (1.37 µm), Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.7 µm) and Infrared Window (11.0 µm) images [click to enlarge]

As a result of the unusual dryness air mass across the region, the 00 UTC Oakland sounding set a record low Total Precipitable Water value for the date (3 mm or 0.12 inch):

 

The Aqua MODIS Total Precipitable Water product at 2123 UTC (below) showed widespread values in the 3-5 mm range (darker shades of brown) over much or northern California. 12 hours later, the TPW value from the 12 UTC Oakland sounding was slightly lower (2.9 mm or 0.11 inch) — and the MODIS TPW product at 0921 UTC continued to show widespread dry air over California.

Aqua MODIS Total Precipitable Water product and Visible (0.65 µm) image at 2123 UTC [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS Total Precipitable Water product and Visible (0.65 µm) image at 2123 UTC [click to enlarge]

True Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) imagery from NOAA-20 VIIRS (below) provided a good view of the smoke.

NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color RGB image [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color RGB image [click to enlarge]

A NOAA-15 AVHRR Shortwave Infrared image at 0225 UTC or 6:25 PM local time (below) depicted the very large thermal anomaly of the fire.

NOAA-15 AVHRR Shortwave Infrared (3.7 µm) image; major highways are plotted in cyan, with Interstate highways plotted in red [click to enlarge]

NOAA-15 AVHRR Shortwave Infrared (3.7 µm) image; major highways are plotted in cyan, with Interstate highways plotted in red [click to enlarge]

The smoke had an adverse  impact on air quality over 100 miles from the fire source: the surface visibility dropped to 1 mile at Santa Rosa KSTS and 2 miles at San Francisco International Airport KSFO (below).

Time series of surface observations for Santa Rosa [click to enlarge]

Time series of surface observations from Santa Rosa [click to enlarge]

Time series of surface observations from San Francisco International Airport [click to enlarge]

Time series of surface observations from San Francisco International Airport [click to enlarge]

===== 09 November Update =====

NOAA-20 VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) images [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Nighttime VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) images from NOAA-20 at 0849 UTC (above) and Suomi NPP at 0942 UTC (below) revealed the bright glow and the large, hot thermal anomaly of the Camp Fire.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) images [click to enlarge]

VIIRS True Color RGB images from Suomi NPP at 2104 UTC and NOAA-20 at 2154 UTC (below) showed the broad extent of the smoke from the Camp Fire in northern California as well as the Woolsey Fire in southern California. These images were captured and processed by the CIMSS/SSEC Direct Broadcast ground station.

Suomi NPP VIIRS True Color RGB image at 2104 UTC [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS True Color RGB image at 2104 UTC [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color RGB image at 2154 UTC [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color RGB image at 2154 UTC [click to enlarge]

An animation of 1-minute GOES-16 Visible and Shortwave Infrared images (below) revealed several plume jumps over the fire source from 15-19 UTC — and toward the end of the day, a decrease in the areal coverage and intensity of hot pixels indicated that extreme fire conditions were easing and containment efforts were slowing the spread of the fire.

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

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

Abnormally dry to extreme drought conditions across California were a contributing factor to this and other wildfires across the state.

US Drought Monitor conditions as of 06 November [click to enlarge]

US Drought Monitor conditions as of 06 November [click to enlarge]

====== 11 November Update =====

Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) images [click to play animation]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) images [click to play animation]

A sequence of Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) images centered at Paradise, California viewed using RealEarth (above) showed the spread of the Camp Fire thermal anomaly (dark black pixels) during the period 1943 UTC on 08 November to 1046 UTC on 11 November.

1-minute GOES-16 Visible and Shortwave Infrared images (below) showed the development of new smoke plume and hot thermal signatures around the periphery of the ongoing Camp Fire during the day on 11 November. As of 1849 UTC (10:49 AM local time), the fire had burned 109,000 acres and was listed as 25% contained.

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

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

The new smoke plume — as well as residual smoke from previous days of burning — could be seen on VIIRS True Color RGB imagery from Suomi NPP at 2029 UTC and NOAA-20 at 2114 UTC (below). The entire image swaths as captured and processed by the Direct Broadcast ground station at CIMSS/SSEC can be seen here and here.

Suomi NPP VIIRS True Color RGB image at 2029 UTC [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS True Color RGB image at 2029 UTC [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color RGB image at 2114 UTC [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color RGB image at 2114 UTC [click to enlarge]

The Camp Fire has claimed 42 lives and destroyed 6,522 homes and 260 businesses, making it both the deadliest and the most destructive wildfire on record for the state of California.

Banner cloud in Alaska

November 7th, 2018 |

Topography + Suomi NPP VIIRS Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images, with/without overlays of NAM12 250 hPa winds [click to play animation | MP4]

Topography + Suomi NPP VIIRS Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images, with/without overlays of NAM12 250 hPa winds [click to play animation | MP4]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images (above) showed a well-defined banner cloud extending from the Brooks Range in northern Alaska to the Beaufort Sea on 07 November 2018. Overlays of NAM12 model 250 hPa winds revealed the presence of a branch of the polar jet stream flowing northeastward over the region. Strong southwesterly winds interacting with the topography of the Brooks Range created a standing wave which led to the formation of the banner cloud.

In a comparison of Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images (below), note the significantly warmer 3.74 µm cloud-top brightness temperatures — as much as 40 to 50ºC warmer at 2009 UTC when the sun angle was highest over Alaska — caused by enhanced solar reflectance off the very small ice crystals at the top of the banner cloud.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-15 (GOES-West) Water Vapor (6.5 µm) and Infrared Window (10.7 µm) images (below) showed that a large banner cloud had persisted downwind of the Brooks Range fpr much of the day.

GOES-15 Water Vapor (6.5 µm, top) and Infrared Window (10.7 µm, bottom) images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-15 Water Vapor (6.5 µm, top) and Infrared Window (10.7 µm, bottom) images [click to play animation | MP4]

Mesoscale vortex in North Dakota

November 6th, 2018 |

One interesting aspect of this 06 November 2018 mesoscale vortex (which was embedded within a stratus cloud deck) was the fact that a signature of the feature was evident in imagery from 15 of the 16 ABI spectral bands on GOES-16 (below) — only the 6.2 µm Upper-level Water Vapor images lacked even a subtle signal. The appearance of the vortex on 1.37 µm Near-Infrared “Cirrus” imagery was possible because the atmospheric column was very dry over that region (MODIS Total Precipitable Water values of 2-4 mm or 0.08-0.16 inch, and 0.31 inch on the 12 UTC Aberdeen SD sounding), so there was very little attenuation of upwelling 1.37 µm radiation by middle/upper-tropospheric water vapor.

16-panel comparison of GOES-16 ABI spectral bands [click to play animation | MP4]

16-panel comparison of GOES-16 ABI spectral bands [click to play animation | MP4]

Closer views of GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm), Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm) and Low-level Water Vapor (7.3 µm) images are shown below. The dry air aloft also shifted the altitude of the GOES-16 Water Vapor band weighting functions to lower altitudes — calculated using 12 UTC rawinsonde data from Aberdeen SD, the 7.3 µm Low-level Water Vapor weighting function peaked near 600 hPa, with significant contributions from as low as the 700 hPa level.

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm, left), Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm, center) and Low-level Water Vapor (7.3 µm, right) images [click to play animation | MP4]

A sequence of Terra/Aqua MODIS and NOAA-20/Suomi NPP VIIRS legacy “fog/stratus” Brightness Temperature Difference (BTD) images (below) indicated that the vortex formed about 40 miles northwest of Devils Lake (KDVL) sometime between 0438 UTC and 0805 UTC (10:38 PM and 2:05 AM local time). An AWIPS-1 version of the animation is available here.

Fog/sratus infrared Brightness Temperature Difference images from Terra/Aqua MODIS and NOAA-20/Suomi NPP VIIRS [click to enlarge | MP4]

Fog/sratus infrared Brightness Temperature Difference images from Terra/Aqua MODIS and NOAA-20/Suomi NPP VIIRS [click to enlarge | MP4]

The stratus clouds surrounding the vortex could be further characterized using a variety of GOES-16 channel difference and derived products as shown below.

GOES-16 Split Cloud Top Phase (11.2 - 8.4 µm) product [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Split Cloud Top Phase (11.2 – 8.4 µm) product [click to play animation | MP4]

The Split Cloud Top Phase (11.2 µm8.4 µm) product (above) allowed this feature to be followed during darkness and daylight. It initially became apparent in GOES-16 imagery near Devils Lake shortly after 11 UTC or 5 AM local time, then traveled southeastward to the southeastern corner of the state before beginning to lose definition after 20 UTC or 2 PM local time. Positive values of this infrared BTD product (shades of blue to cyan) highlight water droplet clouds, while negative BTD values (shades of violet) indicate clouds composed of ice crystals.

GOES-16 Cloud Particle Size Distribution product [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Cloud Particle Size Distribution product [click to play animation | MP4]

The Cloud Particle Size Distribution derived product (above) uses Visible and Near-Infrared bands, so is only created during daylight hours — and only for solar zenith angles of 65º or less, which meant only for a few hours over much of North Dakota with the low sun angle of early November. The product showed a tongue of smaller cloud-top particles (darker blue to violet enhancement) wrapping cyclonically into the center of the feature during the day.

GOES-16 Cloud Top Phase product [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Cloud Top Phase product [click to play animation | MP4]

The Cloud Top Phase product (above) indicated that the vortex and surrounding stratus cloud deck were composed of supercooled water droplets (lighter green enhancement).

GOES-16 Cloud Top Height product [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Cloud Top Height product [click to play animation | MP4]

The Cloud Top Height product (above) showed that the vortex and surrounding stratus clouds had tops generally in the 12,000-14,000 feet range (darker shades of blue).

Terra and Aqua MODIS Visible (0.65 µm), Cirrus (1.37 µm), Snow/Ice (1.61 µm) and Infrared Window (11.0 µm) at 1816 UTC and 1955 UTC [click to enlarge | MP4]

Terra and Aqua MODIS Visible (0.65 µm), Cirrus (1.37 µm), Snow/Ice (1.61 µm) and Infrared Window (11.0 µm) at 1816 UTC and 1955 UTC [click to enlarge | MP4]

Comparisons of Terra and Aqua MODIS Visible (0.65 µm), Cirrus (1.37 µm), Snow/Ice (1.61 µm) and Infrared Window (11.0 µm) at 1816 UTC and 1955 UTC are shown above — and comparisons of VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm), Snow/Ice (1.61 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images from Suomi NPP at 1841 UTC and 2020 UTC along with NOAA-20 (incorrectly labeled as Suomi NPP) at 1941 UTC are shown below. Infrared Window brightness temperatures from both MODIS and VIIRS were in the -20º to -25ºC range (cyan to light blue enhancement) within and adjacent to the vortex.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm), Snow/Ice (1.61 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images at 1841 UTC, 1941 UTC and 2020 UTC [click to enlarge | MP4]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm), Snow/Ice (1.61 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images at 1841 UTC, 1941 UTC and 2020 UTC [click to enlarge | MP4]

A closer view was provided by a sequence of True Color and False Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images from Terra/Aqua MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS as visualized using RealEarth (below).

True Color and False Color RGB images from Terra/Aqua MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS [click to play animation]

True Color and False Color RGB images from Terra/Aqua MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS [click to play animation]

The mesoscale vortex — whose diameter was only about 20-30 miles — formed within cyclonic boundary layer flow about 100 miles south of an advancing cold front (below).

Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) image with aurface analysis of pressure and fronts [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) image with aurface analysis of pressure and fronts [click to enlarge]

One potential forcing mechanism could have been a lobe of 700 hPa vorticity which was about 30 miles upstream of the vortex at 12 UTC and 18 UTC, according to the NAM12 model (below).

GOES-16 Split Cloud Top Phase (11.2 - 8.4 µm) product at 1202 and 1802 UTC, with overlays of NAM12 700 hPa vorticity [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 Split Cloud Top Phase (11.2 – 8.4 µm) product at 1202 and 1802 UTC, with overlays of NAM12 model 700 hPa vorticity [click to enlarge]

[Note: AWIPS color enhancements that differ from the defaults were used for some of the GOES-16 images and products shown here, to better highlight the subtle vortex feature]

Blowing dust in the Arabian Sea

November 3rd, 2018 |

Sequence of daily True Color RGB images from Terra MODIS, Aqua MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS, covering the period 01-03 November [click to play animation]

Sequence of daily True Color RGB images from Terra MODIS, Aqua MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS, covering the period 01-03 November [click to play animation]

Strong winds across southern Iran and Pakistan were lofting plumes of blowing sand/dust offshore over the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea during 01 November, 02 November and 03 November 2018 — a sequence of daily composites of True Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images from Terra MODIS, Aqua MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS from RealEarth (above) showed the increase in dust transport during that 3-day period.

A comparison of True Color RGB images from Terra MODIS, NOAA-20 VIIRS, Suomi NPP VIIRS and Aqua MODIS on 03 November is shown below.

Comparison of True Color RGB images from Terra MODIS, NOAA-20 VIIRS, Suomi NPP VIIRS and Aqua MODIS on 03 November [click to play animation]

Comparison of True Color RGB images from Terra MODIS, NOAA-20 VIIRS, Suomi NPP VIIRS and Aqua MODIS on 03 November [click to play animation]

Metop-A and Metop-B ASCAT data (source) showed surface wind speeds in the 20-25 knot range emerging from the coast where plumes of blowing dust were located (below).

Meop ASCAT surface scatteromete winds [click to enlarge]

Meop ASCAT surface scatteromete winds [click to enlarge]

EUMETSAT Meteosat-11 High Resolution Visible (0.8 µm) images from 02 November and 03 November (below) showed the daily evolution of the dust plumes.

Meteosat-11 Visible (0.8 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

Meteosat-11 Visible (0.8 µm) images on 02 November [click to play animation | MP4]

Meteosat-11 Visible (0.8 µm) images on 03 November [click to play animation | MP4]

Meteosat-11 Visible (0.8 µm) images on 03 November [click to play animation | MP4]