Calf Canyon Fire produces a pyrocumulonimbus cloud1-minute Mesoscale Domain Sector GOES-16 (GOES-East) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm), “Clean” Infrared Window (10.35 µm) and Cloud Top Temperature derived product images (above) showed that the northern portion of the Calf Canyon Fire/Hermits Peak Fire in New Mexico produced a pyrocumulonimbus (pyroCb) cloud on 10 May 2022. Extreme fire behavior was aided by surface wind gusts in the 42-64 mph range and very dry air within the boundary layer (along with very dry fuels from the ongoing drought); 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 exhibited by the pyroCb cloud were around -45ºC (lighter blue enhancement), with the Cloud Top Temperature product showing values as cold as -54ºC (red pixels).
In a comparison of NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color RGB, False Color RGB and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images valid at 2057 UTC (below), the coldest cloud-top infrared brightness temperature was -59ºC. These images were acquired and processed using the Direct Broadcast ground station at SSEC/CIMSS.During the preceding nighttime hours, a toggle between Suomi-NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band and Shortwave Infrared images valid at 0847 UTC or 2:47 am MDT (below) showed the bright emitted light and hot thermal signature of active fires along the periphery of the burn area — especially along the northern fire front, which eventually produced the pyroCb cloud. An evolution of the recent New Mexico wildfires using a series of VIIRS Day/Night Band images is available at this blog post.