Wildfires in Montana

September 2nd, 2020 |

GOES-17 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images, with plots of METAR surface reports and surface fronts [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images, with plots of METAR surface reports and surface fronts [click to play animation | MP4]

1-minute Mesoscale Domain Sector GOES-17 (GOES-West) Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (above) showed a number of thermal anomalies — clusters of hot pixels, yellow to red enhancement — associated with wildfires that developed across parts of Montana on 02 September 2020. The SPC Fire Weather Outlook had highlighted critical to extreme fire weather conditions over much of that region, which included strong winds both ahead of and behind a cold front that was moving southward across Montana. As winds shifted to northerly in the wake of the cold frontal passage, visibility was reduced to 6 miles at Billings (KBIL) as smoke from a fire (located approximately 40 miles to the north) began to drift over that location.

A 4-panel comparison of GOES-17 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm), GOES-17 Shortwave Infrared, GOES-16 (GOES-East) Fire Power and GOES-17 Fire Temperature Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images (below) provided a closer view of the Huff Fire — which, fanned by northwest winds gusting as high as 59 mph, made a rapid run toward the southeast and prompted an evacuation of residents in Jordan.

GOES-17

GOES-17 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm, top left), GOES-17 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, top right), GOES-16 Fire Power (bottom left) and GOES-17 Fire Temperature RGB (bottom right) [click to play animation | MP4]

A time-matched comparison of Shortwave Infrared images from Suomi NPP (overpass map) and GOES-17 at 2042 UTC is shown below. The higher spatial resolution of the VIIRS instrument on Suomi NPP (375 meters) more accurately detected the shape and areal extent of the fire at that time, compared to the 2 km spatial resolution (at the satellite subpoint) of the ABI instrument on GOES-17. Northwest winds were gusting to  knots (51 mph) at the Jordan airport.

Shortwave Infrared images from Suomi NPP (3.7 µm) and GOES-17 (3.9 µm) [click to enlarge]

Shortwave Infrared images from Suomi NPP (3.74 µm) and GOES-17 (3.9 µm) [click to enlarge]

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