Long-range transport of California wildfire smoke across the Upper Midwest

August 24th, 2020 |

GOES-16 True Color RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 True Color RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 (GOES-East) True Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images created using Geo2Grid (above) revealed the hazy signature of dense smoke aloft moving eastward across much of the Upper Midwest on 24 August 2020 — smoke that had been transported from large wildfires burning in California.

Images of 532 nm and 1064 nm lidar attenuated backscatter collected and processed by the University of Wisconsin Lidar Group at Madison from 00 UTC on 24 August to 00 UTC on 25 August (below) indicated that this smoke existed within altitudes between 2 km and 6 km.

532 nm and 1064 nm lidar attenuated backscatter during 24 August at Madison, Wisconsin [click to enlarge]

532 nm and 1064 nm lidar attenuated backscatter over Madison, Wisconsin [click to enlarge]

CIMSS Natural Color RGB images with plots of Pilot Reports are shown below. While this “simple” RGB does not depict the haziness of the smoke as well as the True Color RGB images above — which are corrected for the effect of Raleigh scattering — s subtle smoke signature was still apparent. Not many of the available Pilot Reports (PIREPs) explicitly mentioned any effects of the smoke, but one 1955 UTC PIREP indicated a reduction to Marginal Visual Flight Rules (MVFR, visibility of 3-5 miles) at at altitude of 11,500 feet (3.5 km).

CIMSS Natural Color RGB images, with plots of Pilot Reports [click to play animation | MP4]

CIMSS Natural Color RGB images, with plots of Pilot Reports [click to play animation | MP4]

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