Hermits Peak / Calf Canyon Fire in New Mexico generates a pyrocumulonimbus cloud

May 1st, 2022 |

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm, top left), Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, top right), Infrared Window (10.35 µm, bottom left) and Fire Temperature (bottom right) [click to play animated GIF | MP4]

1-minute Mesoscale Domain Sector GOES-16 (GOES-East) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) and Infrared Window (10.35 µm) images along with 5-minute Fire Temperature images (above) showed intensification of 3 portions of the combined Calf Canyon Fire and Hermits Peak Fire in New Mexico on 01 May 2022. Active fire behavior was aided by surface winds gusts in the 45-54 mph range and very dry air within the boundary layer; these large fires also burned very hot, with 3.9 µm Shortwave Infrared brightness temperatures reaching 138.71ºC — the saturation temperature of ABI Band 7 detectors. Coldest 10.35 µm cloud-top brightness temperatures of intermittent pyroCumulus clouds were around -37ºC (darker yellow enhancement). The Fire Temperature derived product is a component of the GOES Fire Detection and Characterization Algorithm FDCA.

However, in a comparison of 375-meter resolution NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color RGB, Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images valid at 2026 UTC — downloaded and processed using the SSEC/CIMSS Direct Broadcast ground station (below), a small cluster of cloud-top 11.45 µm brightness temperatures of -40 to -43.6ºC (red enhancement) indicated that this feature met the criteria for classification as a pyrocumulonimbus cloud.

NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color RGB, Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images at 2026 UTC [click to enlarge]

The Calf Canyon Fire previously generated a pyroCb cloud on 22 April.

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