Fires in the Plains

April 8th, 2019 |

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

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

GOES-16 (GOES-East) Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images and the corresponding GOES-16 Fire Temperature product (above) showed the thermal signatures of widespread fires across the Great Plains (primarily in the Flint Hills of Kansas and Oklahoma) on 08 April 2019. Although fairly small and often relatively brief, some of these fires become quite hot — exhibiting Fire Temperature values as high as 2762 K (or 4512ºF) southwest of Cottonwood, Kansas at 2011 UTC. These fires were typical Springtime prescribed burns and agricultural fields being cleared for planting.

One fire southwest of Salina, Kansas began to exhibit a prominent 3.9 µm thermal anomaly after 22 UTC, attaining a peak infrared brightness temperature of 95.6ºC (or 204ºF); a closer view of that fire is shown using GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared images along with Fire Temperature, Fire Area and Fire Power products (below). Note that during much of the time (for example, at 2221 UTC) there were no Fire Temperature, Fire Area or Fire Power values processed for the hottest 3.9 µm fire pixel — this is because the fire was producing a thick smoke plume, and the smoke-filled (on Visible imagery) hot pixel was flagged by the GOES Fire Detection and Characterization Algorithm (FDCA) Cloud Mask as a “cloudy pixel”. Beginning in May 2019, an updated algorithm will begin to produce the Fire Power parameter for all types of fire pixel (Processed fire, Saturated fire, Cloud-contaminated fire, and High/Medium/Low-probability fires), but the Fire Temperature and Fire Size parameters will only be available for the Processed fire category.

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

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

A sequence of MODIS and VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.7 µm) images from the Aqua, Suomi NPP and NOAA-20 satellites (below) showed a more detailed view of the fire thermal signatures (black to yellow to red enhancement) during the 1.5 hours between 1822 and 2001 UTC.

Sequence of MODIS and VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.7 µm) images from 1822-2001 UTC [click to enlarge]

Sequence of MODIS and VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.7 µm) images from 1822-2001 UTC [click to enlarge]

Most of the small fires did not produce particularly large smoke plumes, but the density of the fires led to a rather large pall of smoke over the region as seen in GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images (below). Note the smoke plume emanating from the fire southwest of Salina, Kansas (as previously discussed). Most of the smoke was dispersed above the boundary layer — but the surface visibility was reduced by smoke at sites such as Coffeyville, Chanute and Eureka in southeastern Kansas and Bartlesville in northeastern Oklahoma.

GOES-16 "Red" Visible (0.64 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

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

===== 09 April 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]

As some of the larger fires in southern Kansas continued burning into the night, their thermal signature could be seen in NOAA-20 VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) image (darker gray to black pixels), along with their bright glow in the corresponding VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) image at 0818 UTC or 3:18 am CDT (above). Note: the NOAA-20 images are incorrectly labeled as Suomi NPP.