Ferguson Fire in California forms a pyrocumulonimbus cloud

July 15th, 2018 |
GOES-16

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

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

The Ferguson Fire in central California produced a pyrocumulonimbus (pyroCb) cloud during the afternoon hours on 15 July 2018. GOES-16 (GOES-East) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images (above) showed that the high-altitude portion of the pyroCb cloud then drifted northeastward toward the California/Nevada border, where cloud-top infrared brightness temperatures cooled to near -55ºC (orange enhancement) as it crossed the border around 0005 UTC on 16 July.

A comparison of Visible images from GOES-15 (0.63 µm), GOES-17 (0.64 µm) and GOES-16 (0.64 µm) is shown below — with the imagery displayed in the native projection of each satellite. Images from GOES-16/17 are at 5-minute intervals, while images from GOES-15 are every 5-15 minutes depending on the operational scan schedule of that GOES-West satellite. GOES-17 was at its post-launch checkout position of 89.5ºW longitude, so it offered a more direct view of the pyroCb cloud.

Visible images from GOES-15 (0.63 µm, left), GOES-17 (0.64 µm, center) and GOES-16 (0.64 µm, right) [click to play animation]

Visible images from GOES-15 (0.63 µm, left), GOES-17 (0.64 µm, center) and GOES-16 (0.64 µm, right) [click to play animation]

A toggle between NOAA-19 Visible (0.63 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.7 µm) and Infrared Window (10.8 µm) images (below) showed the pyroCb cloud southwest of the California/Nevada border (between Bridgeport KBAN and Mammoth KMMH) at 2327 UTC. In spite of a minimum cloud-top 10.8 µm infrared brightness temperature of -59ºC (red enhancement), note the darker (warmer) appearance of the cloud on the 3.7 µm image — this is due to reflection of solar radiation off the smaller ice particles of the pyroCb anvil. The -59ºC temperature roughly corresponded to an altitude of 13 km or 42.6 kft on the 00 UTC Reno, Nevada rawinsonde report (plot | data)

NOAA-19 Visible (0.63 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.7 µm) and Infrared Window (10.8 µm) images [click to enlarge]

NOAA-19 Visible (0.63 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.7 µm) and Infrared Window (10.8 µm) images [click to enlarge]

A time lapse of the pyroCb was created by Sierra Fire Watch (below).

Time lapse [click to play YouTube video]

Time lapse [click to play YouTube video]

Hurricane Chris accelerates away from the United States

July 11th, 2018 |

GOES-16 ABI Band 2 (“Red Visible”) Visible (0.64 µm) Imagery, 1852-2117 UTC on 11 July 2018 (Click to animate)

Hurricane Chris is accelerating away from the United States (although it will likely pass very close to Cape Race, Newfoundland Canada). Visible Imagery (GOES-16 ABI Band 2, “Red Visible”, at 0.64 µm), above, from late afternoon on 11 July shows a well-developed storm with a pronounced eye.

Before Sunrise on 11 July 2018, both NOAA-20 and JAXA’s Global Change Observation Mission (GCOM) Satellite overflew the storm at slightly different times.  The VIIRS (Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite) instrument NOAA-20 samples in the visible and infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum whereas the AMSR2 Instrument (Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer 2) on GCOM samples in the microwave.  Because microwave energy can penetrate clouds, it can be used to estimate rainfall, and the toggle below steps through the Infrared (11.45 µm) and Day Night Band Visible (0.70 µm) from VIIRS (at 0645 UTC) as well as the Convective Precipitation and Surface Rain rate from AMSR2 (at 0618 UTC). 

Lunar illumination is absent  in the Day Night band visible imagery, but Earth glow nevertheless illuminates the eye of the storm;  in addition, two lightning streaks are visible north and east of the center.  Surface Rain and Convective Rain rates show the heaviest rains near the storm center, as expected (NOAA-20 VIIRS and GCOM AMSR2 imagery courtesy William Straka, CIMSS).

VIIRS Infrared (11.45 µm) and Visible (0.70 µm) Day Night Band Visible Imagery, 0645 UTC on 11 July 2018, and GCOM AMSR2 Convective Precipitation and Surface Rain Rate estimates at 0618 UTC on 11 July (Click to enlarge)

Mesoscale Convective Vortex generated by monsoon thunderstorms in Arizona

July 9th, 2018 |

As mentioned by NWS San Diego, monsoon thunderstorms that developed over Arizona spawned a small Mesoscale Convective Vortex (MCV). The animation below shows nighttime GOES-16 (GOES-East) “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images, followed by daytime GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images — the center of the MCV circulation briefly exhibited an “eye-like” appearance just after 16 UTC (south of the California/Mexico border).

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) and “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images, with hourly plots of surface reports [click to play MP4 animation]

A 1-km resolution NOAA-19 Infrared Window (10.8 µm) image at 1132 UTC (below) showed a more detailed view of the small cluster of thunderstorms responsible for the MCV — the convection produced 0.68″ of rainfall near Yuma KNYZ in far southwestern Arizona, and generated an outflow boundary which produced wind gusts to 46 mph at Thermal, California KTRM (NWS statements).

NOAA-19 AVHRR Infrared Window (10.8 µm) image [click to enlarge]

NOAA-19 AVHRR Infrared Window (10.8 µm) image [click to enlarge]

A toggle between 1-km resolution NOAA-15 and NOAA-18 Visible (0.63 µm) images (below) revealed the emergence of the eye-like MCV center in far northern Baja California (just southeast of Campo, California KCZZ) at 1547 UTC.

NOAA-15 and NOAA-18 Visible (0.63 µm) images [click to enlarge]

NOAA-15 and NOAA-18 Visible (0.63 µm) images [click to enlarge]

PyroCb in Ontario, Canada

May 22nd, 2018 |

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm, top), Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, center) and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm, bottom) images, with hourly plots of surface reports [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm, top), Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, center) and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm, bottom) images, with hourly plots of surface reports [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 (GOES-East) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images (above) showed that Canadian wildfires burning along the Manitoba/Ontario border produced a pyroCumulonimbus (pyroCb) around 1930 UTC on 22 May 2018.

As the pyroCb moved southeastward over western Ontario, the coldest GOES-16 cloud-top infrared brightness temperatures were around -55ºC (orange enhancement), which corresponded to altitudes of about 10.3 to 10.8 km according the rawinsonde data from Pickle Lake, Ontario (below).

Rawinsonde data profiles from Pickle Lake, Ontario [click to enlarge]

Rawinsonde data profiles from Pickle Lake, Ontario [click to enlarge]

In a comparison of 1-km resolution NOAA-19 Visible (0.63 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.7 µm) and Infrared Window (10.8 µm) images at 2210 UTC (below), the minimum cloud-top infrared brightness temperature was -58.1ºC (darker orange enhancement), which roughly corresponded to altitudes of 10.6 to 11.0 km (just below the tropopause) on the Pickle Lake soundings.

NOAA-19 Visible (0.63 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.7 µm) and Infrared Window (10.8 µm) images [click to enlarge]

NOAA-19 Visible (0.63 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.7 µm) and Infrared Window (10.8 µm) images [click to enlarge]