Fire in New Jersey

May 15th, 2007 |

GOES-12 3.9µm IR image

GOES-12 3.9µm InfraRed (IR) imagery (above; Java animation) showed a large “hot spot” associated with a wildfire in New Jersey — this fire was apparently started by a flare from a military F-16 fighter jet on a routine training exercise (CNN article), which ignited the dry shrub and oak pine in that area during the afternoon of 15 May 2007. In less than 90 minutes this fire became hot enough to saturate the GOES-12 3.9µm detectors, causing the brightness temperatures to “roll over” and be displayed as a very “cold” pixels (white enhancement) — the GOES-12 Wildfire ABBA product at 21:15 UTC (below) indicated a large area of yellow-colored saturated fire pixels.

GOES-12 Wildfire ABBA product

A smoke plume was seen on GOES-12 visible channel imagery (below; Java animation), drifting eastward over the adjacent offshore waters of the Atlantic Ocean. This smoke plume was also detected on radar. As of 16 May, this fire had burned over 13,000 acres, damaging about a dozen homes and causing thousands of residents to evacuate.

GOES-12 visible image

More thick smoke from the Georgia/Florida fires

May 11th, 2007 |

GOES-12 visible image

GOES-12 visible imagery from 11 May 2007 (above; Java animation) shows the very thick areas of smoke resulting from ongoing fire activity in Georgia and Florida. Strong winds around the periphery of the remnants of Subtropical Storm Andrea continued to create an environment favorable for fire growth. A few convective bursts near the center of the tropical depression were evident during the day, but the convection remained disorganized and weak.

The highest concentration of smoke (MODIS true color image) was within a west-to-east oriented zone of diffluence where winds were generally weaker (across the eastern Gulf of Mexico and southern Florida). This smoke remained in that general region on the following day (12 May), and IDEA trajectories (below) indicated that a slow transport of this thick smoke would continue to gradually disperse it during the subsequent 24-48 hour period.

IDEA trajectory forecast

Subtropical Storm Andrea

May 9th, 2007 |

AWIPS GOES-12 water vapor image

AWIPS images of the GOES-12 6.5µm “water vapor channel” (above; QuickTime animation) revealed the large size of a cyclonic circulation off the southeast US coast on 08 May 2007. This system was eventually named Subtropical Storm Andrea by the National Hurricane Center the following morning. One noteworthy aspect of Andrea was the fact that it’s formation ended the longest period recorded in the satellite era (33 days) without a tropical cyclone in any ocean basin (the last tropical cyclone was Tropical Cyclone Cliff in the South Pacific Ocean, which dissipated on 06 April 2007).

GOES-12 water vapor winds

GOES-12 water vapor winds (above) showed several upper-tropospheric targets of 50 knots (57 mph) or greater in the northern quadrant of the cyclone at 15:00 UTC on 08 May — Buoy 41013 off the coast of North Carolina reported a wind gust of 48 knots (55 mph) earlier that day. The strong winds around the periphery of the storm were causing ongoing wildfires in Georgia and Florida to intensify, creating very impressive smoke plumes which drifted southward across parts of Florida and the adjacent offshore waters of the Gulf of Mexico (GOES-12 visible images: Java animation). Thick smoke (which caused air quality problems and highway closures in some areas of Florida) was also very evident on MODIS true color imagery (below) and on the MODIS Aerosol Optical Depth (AOD) product.

MODIS true color image

Severe weather in the central US

May 6th, 2007 |

GOES-12 10.7µm IR image

The largest outbreak of severe weather so far this season developed across a large portion of the central US on 04 May / 05 May / 06 May 2007, producing tornadoes from Texas to South Dakota, hail up to 4.25 inches in diameter in Nebraska, and wind gusts to 90 mph in Kansas. GOES-12 images of the 10.7µm InfraRed (IR) channel (above; QuickTime animation) show the development of the severe convection that spawned the deadly EF-5 tornado that destroyed much of Greensburg, Kansas (located near the center of the images) around 02:38 UTC on 05 May (9:38 PM on 04 May, local time). This was the first F5/EF-5 tornado damage in the US since May 1999.

AWIPS GOES-12 10.7µm IR image

One striking aspect of the IR satellite imagery on 06 May was the large areal coverage of unusually cold cloud top temperatures (colder than -80º C, purple enhancement) early in the day over eastern Nebraska and western Iowa (above; QuickTime animation). A comparison of 1-km resolution NOAA-18 IR and 4-km resolution GOES-12 IR (below) reveals cloud top temperatures as cold as -87º C (-125º F) and -85º C (-121º F), respectively; such a close agreement between AVHRR vs. GOES IR temperatures is also somewhat unusual, since the higher spatial resolution of the AVHRR instrument often senses cloud top temperatures that are as much as 10-20º C colder than GOES in the areas of convective storm tops.

NOAA-18 / GOES-12 IR comparison