Carr Fire pyrocumulonimbus in California

July 27th, 2018 |

GOES-16

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

1-minute Mesoscale Domain Sector GOES-16 (GOES-East) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (above) showed the large thermal anomaly or “hot spot” (cluster of red pixels) associated with the Carr Fire in northern California as it produced a pyrocumulonimbus (pyroCb) cloud during the afternoon hours on 27 July 2018. A 30-meter resolution Landsat-8 False Color image from the previous day showed the large size of the burn scar; extreme fire behavior on 27 July caused the Carr Fire to quickly increase in size and move closer to Redding CA, and also produce the pyroCb.

Another view using GOES-16 “Red” Visible, Shortwave Infrared, “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) and the Cloud Top Temperature product (below) showed the pyroCb cloud as it drifted rapidly northeast over Nevada and Oregon, along with a second (albeit smaller) pyroCb cloud which developed around 0130 UTC. One standard parameter used for defining a pyroCb cloud is a minimum cloud-top longwave infrared brightness temperature of -40ºC (ensuring complete glaciation) — and in this case with 1-minute imagery, the multi-spectral Cloud Top Temperature (CTT) product (FAQ) indicated that the pyroCb cloud reached the -40ºC threshold 19 minutes earlier than the 10.3 µm infrared imagery. From that point forward, the CTT product was consistently at least 5-10ºC colder than the 10.3 µm brightness temperature; the CTT product eventually displayed a minimum value of -53.9ºC over northeastern California. Even as the 10.3 µm brightness temperature began to rapidly warm after about 0100 UTC, the CTT product continued to display values in the -45 to -50ºC range (shades of green) which allowed for unambiguous tracking of the pyroCb.

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 Cloud Top Temperature product (bottom right) [click to play MP4 animation]

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 Cloud Top Temperature product (bottom right) [click to play MP4 animation]

In the case of the second (smaller) pyroCb cloud that formed from the Carr Fire after 0130 UTC, the 10.3 µm brightness temperature failed to reach the -40ºC threshold, while the CTT product again displayed values in the -45 to -50ºC range. The coldest CTT value of -53.9ºC (seen with the initial pyroCb) roughly corresponded to an altitude of 12.5 km or 41,000 feet according to 00 UTC rawinsonde data from Reno, Nevada (below). Strong upper-tropospheric winds of 80-90 knots rapidly transported the pyroCb anvil northeastward.

Plot of 00 UTC rawinsonde data from Reno, Nevada [click to enlarge]

Plot of 00 UTC rawinsonde data from Reno, Nevada [click to enlarge]

Large hail and high winds in South Dakota and Nebraska

July 27th, 2018 |

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images, with SPC storm reports plotted in red [click to play MP4 animation]

A supercell thunderstorm which developed in southeastern Montana during the afternoon hours on 27 July 2018 produced damaging wind-driven hail as it moved southeastward across western South Dakota into far northern Nebraska (SPC storm reports | NWS Rapid City summary). 1-minute Mesoscale Domain Sector GOES-16 (GOES-East) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images (above) showed the evolution of this storm.

The corresponding GOES-16 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images (below) revealed minimum cloud-top infrared brightness temperatures in the -60 to -70ºC range (darker red to black enhancement) with the strongest pulses of overshooting tops. The storm began to exhibit a well-defined enhanced-V signature once it crossed the South Dakota / Nebraska border after about 0200 UTC.

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images, with SPC storm reports plotted in purple [click to play MP4 animation]

===== 30 July Update =====

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

Terra MODIS True Color and False Color RGB images, with hail damage swath highlighted by red arrows [click to enlarge]

A comparison of 250-meter resolution Terra MODIS True Color and False Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images from the MODIS Today site (above) showed the northwest-to-southeast hail damage swath across southwestern South Dakota on 30 July.

Before/after (16/30 July) comparisons of MODIS True Color RGB images viewed using RealEarth and MODIS Today (below) further illustrate the appearance of the hail damage swath.

MODIS True Color RGB images from 16 July and 30 July [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS True Color RGB images from 16 July and 30 July [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS True Color RGB images from 16 and 30 July [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS True Color RGB images from 16 July and 30 July [click to enlarge]

In a comparison between the 30 July Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) image and the corresponding Land Surface Temperature (LST) and Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) products (below), within the core of the hail damage swath (near Oglala) LST values warmed into the 90s F and NDVI values were reduced to the 0.2 to 0.3 range (compared to cooler LST values in the 80s F and higher NDVI values of 0.3 to 0.6 over healthy vegetation areas immediately adjacent to the damage swath).

Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) image and Land Surface Temperature and Normalized Difference Vegetation Index products [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) image and Land Surface Temperature and Normalized Difference Vegetation Index products [click to enlarge]

===== 31 July Update =====

MODIS True Color RGB images from Terra (14 July) and Aqua (31 July) [click to enlarge]

MODIS True Color RGB images from Terra (14 July) and Aqua (31 July) [click to enlarge]

In a better, more cloud-free before/after comparison of MODIS True Color images from 14 and 31 July (above), it can be seen that the NW-SE oriented hail damage swath extended into Nebraska (where hail as large as 3.0 inches was reported).