Pyrocumulonimbus clouds produced by the Dixie Fire in California

July 19th, 2021 |

GOES-17 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm, top left), Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, top right), “Clean” Infrared Window (10.35 µm, bottom left) and Fire Temperature RGB (bottom right) [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm, top left), Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, top right), “Clean” Infrared Window (10.35 µm, bottom left), and Fire Temperature RGB (bottom right) [click to play animation | MP4]

5-minute GOES-17 (GOES-West) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm), “Clean” Infrared Window (10.35 µm) and Fire Temperature RGB images (above) revealed that the Dixie Fire in northern California produced a pair of pyrocumulonimbus (pyroCb) clouds— denoted by cloud-top 10.35 µm infrared brightness temperatures of -40ºC or colder (shades of blue pixels) — late in the day on 19 July 2021. The maximum surface 3.9 µm brightness temperature sensed with this fire was 138.7ºC — which is the saturation temperature for the ABI Band 7 detectors.

25th Anniversary of the Oakfield, Wisconsin F5 tornado

July 18th, 2021 |

An F5 tornado struck the village of Oakfield, Wisconsin late in the day on 18 July 1996 (NWS Milwaukee story). An animation of GOES-8 (GOES-East) Visible images (below) showed the development of supercell thunderstorms as they moved east-southeastward across the area. Oakfield is located just southwest of Fond du Lac (KFLD), and is denoted by the yellow ‘+’ symbol on the images. Overshooting tops were evident on these thunderstorms.

GOES-8 Visible images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-8 Visible images [click to play animation | MP4]

The corresponding GOES-8 Infrared Window images (below) revealed cloud-top infrared brightness temperatures as cold as -63.6ºC (darker shades of red) at 2345 UTC, which was approximately 30 minutes prior to the tornado moving through Oakfield (the GOES-8 imager instrument was actually scanning the Oakfield area at 2348 UTC).

GOES-8 Infrared images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-8 Infrared images [click to play animation | MP4]

On a larger-scale view of GOES-8 Water Vapor images (below), a sharp gradient of warm-to-cool brightness temperature — orange/yellow to blue enhancement, portraying the gradient of dry air to moist air — highlighted the presence of a middle-tropospheric jet streak that was moving southeastward across the state.

GOES-8 Water Vapor images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-8 Water Vapor images [click to play animation | MP4]

Examples of Derived Product Images from the GOES-8 Sounder can be seen here.

Pyrocumulonimbus cloud produced by the Bootleg Fire in Oregon

July 14th, 2021 |

GOES-17 "Red" Visible (0.64 µm, top left), Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, top right), "Clean" Infrared Window (10.35 µm, bottom left) and Fire Temperature RGB (bottom right) [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm, top left), Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, top right), “Clean” Infrared Window (10.35 µm, bottom left) and Fire Temperature RGB (bottom right) [click to play animation | MP4]

1-minute Mesoscale Domain Sector GOES-17 (GOES-West) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm), “Clean” Infrared Window (10.35 µm) and Fire Temperature RGB images (above) revealed that the Bootleg Fire in far southern Oregon produced a pyrocumulonimbus (pyroCb) cloud — denoted by cloud-top 10.35 µm infrared brightness temperatures of -40ºC and colder (darker blue pixels) — late in the day on 14 July 2021. The maximum surface 3.9 µm brightness temperature sensed with this fire was 138.7ºC — which is the saturation temperature for the ABI Band 7 detectors.

A plot of 00 UTC rawinsonde data from nearby Medford, Oregon (below) indicated that the -40ºC temperature closely corresponded to the height of the tropopause and the Most Unstable (MU) air parcel Equilibrium Level (EL).

Plot of 00 UTC rawinsonde data from Medford, Oregon [click to enlarge]

Plot of 00 UTC rawinsonde data from Medford, Oregon [click to enlarge]

On the following morning, signatures of the upper-tropospheric/lower-stratospheric smoke that was forced aloft by the pyroCb cloud could be seen arcing east-southeastward over parts of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming on GOES-17 Visible and Near-Infrared “Cirrus” (1.37 µm) images (below). The smoke signature in 1.37 µm images was not due to the plume being composed of ice particles; rather, the Cirrus imagery is also able to highlight the presence of particles that are highly effective at scattering sunlight (which includes ice crystals, dust, volcanic ash, smoke) — and the smoke signature was also further highlighted by a favorable forward scattering angle.

GOES-17 "Red" Visible (0.64 µm, top) and Near-Infrared "Cirrus" (1.37 µm, bottom) images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm, top) and Near-Infrared “Cirrus” (1.37 µm, bottom) images [click to play animation | MP4]

Thunderstorms over the Chukchi Sea and Beaufort Sea north of Alaska

July 12th, 2021 |

Suomi NPP VIIRS Infrared Window (11.45 µm) and Visible (0.64 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Infrared Window (11.45 µm) and Visible (0.64 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

A sequence of Suomi NPP VIIRS Infrared Window (11.45 µm) and Visible (0.64 µm) images (above) showed snapshots of thunderstorms over parts of the Chukchi Sea and the Beaufort Sea off the northern coast of Alaska on 12 July 2021. The coldest convective cloud-top infrared brightness temperatures were in the -30 to -40ºC range. Unusual aspects of these thunderstorms included their high latitude location over ice-covered waters — as far north as 75ºN latitude — and the large amount of cloud-to-surface lightning strikes that they produced.



These thunderstorms were not surface-based — instead, they were forced by an approaching cold front (surface analyses) which helped to release elevated instability within the 500-300 hPa layer (below).

Suomi NPP VIIRS Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images, with contours of NAM40 lapse rate within the 500-300 hPa layer [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images, with contours of NAM40 lapse rate within the 500-300 hPa layer [click to enlarge]

Rawnsonde data from Utqiagvik (PABR) were not available (due to ongoing equipment malfunction at that site) — but a NUCAPS profile near the southernmost cluster of convection around 15 UTC (below) showed the layer of instability aloft.

NUCAPS profile near thunderstorms off the northern coast of Alaska [click to enlarge]

NUCAPS profile near thunderstorms off the northern coast of Alaska [click to enlarge]