Kincade Fire in Northern California

October 24th, 2019 |

GOES-17 multi-panel images showing all 16 ABI spectral bands [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 multi-panel images showing all 16 ABI spectral bands [click to play animation | MP4]

1-minute interval (and 30-second interval, beginning at 0730 UTC) Mesoscale Domain Sector GOES-17 (GOES-West) multi-panel images showing all 16 ABI spectral bands (above) revealed the hot thermal signature of the Kincade Fire in Northern California on 24 October 2019. The fire thermal anomaly first became evident in Shortwave Infrared and Near-Infrared imagery at 0421 UTC or 10:21 PM PDT on 23 October (0421 UTC image | 6-minute animation). A weather station close to the fire (Healdsburg Hills) recorded winds gusting to 76 mph less than 2 hours after the fire started; at that time, the Relative Humidity was only 11%. Above-normal temperatures were also present across that region of California, with Downtown Oakland setting a daily record high of 89ºF.

At times the fire’s hot thermal emissions were detected by 13 of the 16 spectral bands — including very subtle signatures in the “Red” Visible (0.64 µm), Near-Infrared “Vegetation” (0.86 µm) and “Cirrus” (1.38 µm), and Low-level Water Vapor (7.34 µm) bands (below). The hottest Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) brightness temperature observed was 138.7ºC (411.9 K), which is the saturation temperature for those ABI detectors.

Since overlapping 1-minute GOES-17 Mesoscale Sectors provided 30-second Visible images, the westward transport of dense smoke from the fire source could be followed in great temporal and spatial detail (below). Note that a ship about 50 miles offshore reported smoke at 18 UTC. Just south of the dense plume, smoke was being reported at Santa Rosa — but the surface visibility remained at 10 miles.

GOES-17

GOES-17 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images, with surface reports plotted in yellow [click to play animation | MP4]

A larger-scale view using the GOES-17 CIMSS Natural Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) product (below) indicated that smoke had been transported about 400 miles offshore by 20 UTC.

GOES-17 CIMSS Natural Color RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 CIMSS Natural Color RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

A toggle between Terra MODIS True Color and False Color RGB images from the MODIS Today site (below) provided a more detailed view of the smoke plume and the thermal anomaly (shades of pink to red) associated with the large Kincade Fire (as well as the much smaller Muir Fire near the coast, north of San Francisco).

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

Terra MODIS True Color and False Color RGB images at 1826 UTC [click to enlarge]

A comparison of Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) images at 0900 and 2023 UTC (below) showed the expansion of the fire’s thermal anomaly (red to black pixels) during that ~11.5 hour period.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) images at 0900 and 2023 UTC [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) images at 0900 and 2023 UTC; the solid violet line west of the fire is California Highway 101. [click to enlarge]

The remnants of Typhoon Hagibis in the Bering Sea

October 14th, 2019 |

GOES-17 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images with surface reports plotted in cyan, then contours of the PV1.5 pressure, followed by the GOES-17 Air Mass RGB [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images with surface reports plotted in cyan, then contours of PV1.5 pressure plotted in red, followed by Air Mass RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

An animation sequence of GOES-17 (GOES-West) Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images with surface reports, then contours of PV1.5 pressure, followed by Air Mass Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images (above) showed the remnants of Typhoon Hagibis in the southern Bering Sea on 14 October 2019. During this time period, the extratropical cyclone was analyzed as a Hurricane Force low (surface analyses) —  winds gusted to 62 knots at Adak (PADK) and 60 knots at Shemya (PASY). The PV1.5 surface represents the “dynamic tropopause”, which model fields depicted as  descending as low as the 700 hPa pressure level. Due to the markedly-lower tropopause around and west of the low center, those areas appeared as deeper hues of red/orange on the Air Mass RGB images (influenced by the higher concentrations of ozone-rich stratospheric air within the atmospheric column). The striping seen early in the animation was caused by GOES-17s ABI Loop Heat Pipe issue.

In rawinsonde data from St. Paul Island (PASN), the objectively-decoded tropopause descended from 226 hPa (11 km) at 12 UTC on 14 October to 336 hPa (8.1 km) at 00 UTC on 15 October (below).

Plots of rawinsonde data at St. Paul Island [click to enlarge]

Plots of rawinsonde data at St. Paul Island [click to enlarge]

On the following day, a toggle between Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) images at 2319 UTC on 15 October and 0100 UTC on 16 October (below) showed the remnants of Hagibis briefly making landfall southeast of Anadyr, Russia (UHMA) as a Gale Force low. Winds at Anadyr gusted to 54 knots shortly after the low moved inland.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) images at 2319 UTC on 15 October and 0100 UTC on 16 October [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) images at 2319 UTC on 15 October and 0100 UTC on 16 October [click to enlarge]

Early-season winter storm in the Northern Plains

October 12th, 2019 |

GOES-16 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images, with hourly surface weather type plotted in red [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images, with hourly surface weather type plotted in red [click to play animation | MP4]

With the approach of an anomalously-deep 500 hPa low, an early-season winter storm produced very heavy snowfall and blizzard conditions across the Northern Plains — particularly in central/eastern North Dakota and southern Manitoba — during the 10 October12 October 2019 period. GOES-16 (GOES-East) Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images (above) showed the long duration of precipitation across that region. Text listings of snowfall totals and wind gusts are available from WPC, NWS Bismarck and NWS Grand Forks (more complete storm summaries: NWS Bismarck | NWS Grand Forks). The highest storm total snowfall amount in far southern Manitoba was 32 inches south of Morten (which reported a snow depth of 30 inches on the morning of 12 October), with 30 inches in central North Dakota at Harvey.

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images (below) displayed the storm during the daylight hours on 10/11/12 October.

GOES-16 "Red" Visible (0.64 µm) images on 10/11/12 October, with hourly precipitation type plotted in red [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images on 10/11/12 October, with hourly precipitation type plotted in red [click to play animation | MP4]

On 11 October, GOES-16 Visible images with an overlay of GLM Flash Extent Density (below) revealed intermittent clusters of lightning activity over northwestern Minnesota, northeastern North Dakota and southern Manitoba — while no surface stations explicitly reported a thunderstorm, NWS Grand Forks received calls from the public about thundersnow. The texture of cloud tops in the Visible imagery also supported the presence of embedded convective elements, which likely enhanced snowfall rates as they pivoted across that area. An animation of GOES-16 Visible imagery with plots of GLM Groups and surface weather type is available here.

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images, with an overlay of GLM Flash Extent Density [click to play animation | MP4]

Note that this lightning-producing convection was occurring near the leading edge of the cyclone’s mid-tropospheric dry slot, as seen in GOES-16 Water Vapor imagery (below).

GOES-16 "Red" Visible (0.64 µm, left) and Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm, right) images, with GLM Groups plotted in red [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm, left) and Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm, right) images, with GLM Groups plotted in red [click to play animation | MP4]

One important aspect of this storm was the formation of a TROugh of Warm air ALoft or TROWAL (SHyMet | Martin, 1998) as the surface low began to enter its occluded phase on 11 October — contours of Equivalent Potential Temperature along the 295 K isentropic surface (below) helped to diagnose the axis of the TROWAL as it curved cyclonically from southwestern Ontario to southern Manitoba and then southward over North Dakota.

GOES-16 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images, with 295 K equivalent potential temperature contours plotted in yellow and surface fronts plotted in red [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images, with 295 K Equivalent Potential Temperature contours plotted in yellow and surface fronts plotted in red [click to play animation | MP4]

A similar animation with contours of 295 K specific humidity (below) also displayed the orientation of a west-to-east cross section B-B’ (green) across northern Northern Minnesota and northern Minnesota.

GOES-16 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images, with 295 K Specific Humidity contours plotted in yellow and surface fronts plotted in red [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images, with 295 K Specific Humidity contours plotted in yellow and surface fronts plotted in red [click to play animation | MP4]

The Line B-B’ cross section at 16 UTC (with and without contours of Equivalent Potential Temperature) is shown below. Note the deep column of upward vertical velocity (highlighted by color shading of Omega) centered over Langdon, North Dakota — the moist TROWAL airstream can be seen sloping isentropically upward and westward behind the 3 g/kg Specific Humidity contour, as it approached the region of upward vertical motion. Langdon received 27 inches of snowfall; the prolonged southward passage of the TROWAL over North Dakota likely contributed to this accumulation.

Cross section of RAP40 model fields along Line B-B' at 16 UTC [click to enlarge]

Cross section of RAP40 model fields along Line B-B’ at 16 UTC [click to enlarge]

As the storm was gradually winding down on 12 October, its circulation exhibited a very broad middle-tropospheric signature on GOES-16 Water Vapor imagery (below).

GOES-16 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images, with surface frontal positions [click to play animation]

GOES-16 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images, with surface frontal positions [click to play animation | MP4]

===== 17 October Update =====

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

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

After the area had already experienced its wettest Fall season on record, additional rainfall and snowmelt from this winter storm exacerbated ongoing flooding problems. A comparison of 250-meter resolution Aqua MODIS True Color and False Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images (source) centered over northeastern North Dakota (above) revealed flooding along the Red River (which flows northward along the North Dakota / Minnesota border) — water appears as darker shades of blue in the False Color image.

A Suomi NPP VIIRS Flood Product depicting floodwater fractions in the Red River Valley north of Grand Forks ND (as visualized using RealEarth) is shown below.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Flood Product, depicting floodwater fractions in the Red River Valley north of Grand Forks, ND [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Flood Product, depicting floodwater fractions in the Red River Valley north of Grand Forks, ND [click to enlarge]

===== 18 October Update =====

GOES-16 Day Cloud Phase Distinction RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Day Cloud Phase Distinction RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

On 18 October — 1 week after the height of the historic blizzard — GOES-16 Day Cloud Phase Distinction RGB images showed significant snow cover (brighter shades of green) remaining in parts of northeastern North Dakota and southern Manitoba that received the highest storm total snowfall accumulations (for example, 32″ south of Morden MB, 29″ at Vang ND, 28″ at Olga ND and 27″ at Langdon ND). The site south of Morden MB reported a residual snow depth of 10 inches that morning.

Decker Fire in Colorado

October 2nd, 2019 |

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

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

GOES-16 (GOES-East) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (above) showed the afternoon/evening smoke plume and the persistent thermal anomaly (cluster of hot pixels) associated with the Decker Fire burning just southwest of Salida, Colorado on 02 October 2019.

A closer view of the fire was provided by a 4-panel comparison of GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared, Fire Power, Fire Temperature and Fire Area products (below). More information on these GOES Fire Detection and Characterization Algorithm (FDCA) products can be found here. Windy conditions on this day —  with sustained speeds of 20-30 mph and gusts to 46 mph — promoted rapid fire growth during the afternoon hours.

GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm), Fire Power, Fire Temperature and Fire Area [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm), Fire Power, Fire Temperature and Fire Area [click to play animation | MP4]

A sequence of VIIRS True Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) and Infrared Window images from Suomi NPP and NOAA-20 as viewed using RealEarth (below) showed the smoke plume and the fire’s thermal anomaly (cluster of dark black pixels).

VIIRS True Color RGB and Infrared Window (11.45 um) images from Suomi NPP and NOAA-20 [click to enlarge]

VIIRS True Color RGB and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images from Suomi NPP and NOAA-20 [click to enlarge]

A time series of surface observation data from the Salida Airport (identifier KANK, located just northwest of the fire) revealed southwesterly winds gusting to 20-29 knots as the dew point dropped to the -1 to -11ºF range — creating Relative Humidity values as low as 4% — during the afternoon hours (below).

Time series of surface observation data from Salida, Colorado [click to enlarge]

Time series of surface observation data from Salida, Colorado [click to enlarge]

===== 03 October Update =====

GOES-17 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

The Decker Fire continued to burn on 03 October, as seen using 1-minute Mesoscale Domain Sector GOES-17 “Red” Visible and Shortwave Infrared images (above). Although surface winds were still gusting as high as 30 knots at Salida, additional boundary layer moisture (dew points were in the 20s F) helped to slow the rate of fire growth compared to the previous day. The southeasterly winds transported some low-altitude smoke toward Salida, reducing the visibility to 5-7 miles at times (below).

Time series of surface observation data from Salida, Colorado [click to enlarge]

Time series of surface observation data from Salida, Colorado [click to enlarge]

A comparison of GOES-16 (GOES-East) and GOES-17 (GOES-West) Shortwave Infrared images with topography (below) demonstrated the effect of large satellite viewing angles on apparent fire location in areas of rugged terrain — note the offset in the position of the Decker Fire thermal anomaly between the 2 satellites (the viewing angle of the fire from each satellite is about 53 degrees).

GOES-16 and GOES-17 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images, with topography [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 and GOES-17 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images, with topography (highways are plotted in cyan) [click to play animation | MP4]