Marshall Fire near Boulder, Colorado

December 30th, 2021 |

GOES-16 Fire Temperature RGB (top left), Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, top right), Fire Power (bottom left) and Fire Temperature (bottom right), [click to play animated GIF | MP4]

GOES-16 Fire Temperature RGB, Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) Fire Power and Fire Temperature derived products (above) showed rapid expansion of the Marshall Fire’s thermal signature in Boulder County, Colorado on 30 December 2021. The earliest unambiguous fire signature appeared on the 1841 UTC image (11:41 am MST); the maximum 3.9 µm infrared brightness temperature was 110.96ºC (at 2021 UTC), the peak Fire Power was 1848.94 MW (at 2031 UTC) and the peak Fire Temperature was 1632.94 K (at 2031 UTC). The fire burned over 6000 acres in less than 24 hours, and destroyed or damaged over 1000 homes and businesses (making it the most destructive wildfire on record for the state of Colorado).

A comparison of Shortwave Infrared images from GOES-17 (GOES-West) and GOES-16 (GOES-East) is shown below. As was the case above, the earliest unambiguous fire thermal signature appeared on the 1841 UTC images from both satellites. Beginning at 2100 UTC, a GOES-17 Mesoscale Domain Sector was positioned over the region to monitor the ongoing fire, which provided images at 1-minute intervals.

Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images from GOES-17 (left) and GOES-16 (right) [click to play animated GIF | MP4]

GOES-17 and GOES-16 Low-level (7.3 µm), Mid-level (6.9 µm) and Upper-level (6.2 µm) Water Vapor images (below) revealed the rapid development of a band of pronounced warming/drying — indicative of strong mountain wave subsidence — over the Front Range (centered near the Boulder KBOU area), along with additional mountain waves extending to the east. The band of strong mountain wave subsidence helped to transfer the momentum of strong westerly winds aloft (Boulder rawinsondes) downward to the surface; the rapid spread of the fire was driven by very strong surface winds, gusting to speeds over 100 mph.

GOES-17 (left) and GOES-16 (right) Upper-level (6.2 µm, top), Mid-level (6.9 µm, center) and Low-level (7.3 µm, bottom) Water Vapor images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 True Color RGB images created using Geo2Grid (below) highlighted the smoke plume, which drifted as far eastward as Nebraska and Kansas by sunset. Note the development of Kelvin-Helmholtz waves (particularly along the northern edge) as lee-side mountain waves distorted the smoke plume. Smoke briefly reduced the surface visibility to 1.5 miles at Denver International Airport — and farther to the east, the visibility dropped to 7 miles at Fort Morgan. Several other narrow plumes of blowing dust could be seen moving eastward across the eastern Colorado plains (which was experiencing severe to extreme drought). 

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

1-minute GOES-17 True Color RGB images are shown below.

GOES-17 True Color RGB images [click to play animated GIF | MP4]

VIIRS Fire RGB images from Suomi-NPP and NOAA-20 as viewed using RealEarth (below) showed the coverage of the Marshall Fire (cluster of red pixels) at 3 time periods.

VIIRS Fire RGB images from Suomi-NPP and NOAA-20 [click to enlarge]

===== 31 December Update =====

VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) from Suomi-NPP [click to enlarge]

During the subsequent nighttime hours, a VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) from Suomi-NPP (above) displayed thermal anomalies associated with active fire pockets that continued to burn at 0925 UTC or 2:25 am MST. 

Texas oil refinery explosion and fire

December 23rd, 2021 |

GOES-17 (left) and GOES-16 (right) Near-Infrared and Shortwave Infrared images [click to play animated GIF | MP4]

An explosion and fire occurred at the ExxonMobil refinery in Baytown, Texas around 12:50 AM (0650 UTC) on 23 December 2021 — and a comparison of GOES-17 (GOES-West) vs GOES-16 (GOES-East) Near-Infrared (1.61 µm and 2.24µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9µm) images (above) displayed the thermal signature of the fire. The maximum 3.9 µm infrared brightness temperature sensed by GOES-16 was 343.02 K (compared to 337.82 K by GOES-17).

GOES-16 Plume RGB images (credit: Tim Schmit, NOAA/NESDIS/ASPB) [click to play animated GIF | MP4]

GOES-16 (above) and GOES-17 (below) Plume RGB images created using Geo2Grid also helped to highlight the thermal signature of the fire (red pixels).

GOES-17 Plume RGB images (credit: Tim Schmit, NOAA/NESDIS/ASPB) [click to play animated GIF | MP4]

In a time-matched comparison of Shortwave Infrared images from GOES-16 and Suomi-NPP about 1.5 hours after the initial refinery explosion (below), the GOES-16 thermal signature was beginning to diminish (exhibiting an infrared brightness temperature of 14.7ºC) while the higher spatial resolution Suomi-NPP VIIRS shortwave infrared brightness temperature was notably warmer at 26.2ºC.

Shortwave Infrared images from GOES-16 and Suomi-NPP [click to enlarge]

Buck Fire in North Texas

October 28th, 2021 |

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

1-minute Mesoscale Domain Sector GOES-16 (GOES-East) True Color RGB images created using Geo2Grid (above) showed a distinct smoke plume associated with the Buck Fire in North Texas on 28 October 2021. The fire spread rapidly toward the southeast, driven by strong northwesterly winds gusting in excess of 40 knots. Note that the brighter white smoke plume was embedded within broader plumes of blowing dust (shades tan to light brown).

In a sequence of 1-minute GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images along with 5-minute Fire Temperature and Fire Power derived products — all with an overlay of 5-minute Visible Derived Motion Winds (below), 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), the peak Fire Temperature exceeded 2900 K and the Fire Power reached 1800 MW (the Fire Temperature and Fire Power derived products are components of the GOES Fire Detection and Characterization Algorithm FDCA). Derived Motion Winds tracked the smoke plume moving southeastward at speeds up to 49 knots.

GOES-16 Visible, Shortwave Infrared, Fire Temperature, and Fire Power with an overlay of Derived Motion Winds [click to play animated GIF | MP4]

===== 29 October Update =====

NOAA-20 VIIRS DayNight Band image at 0816 UTC [click to enlarge]

During the subsequent nighttime hours, the bright glow of the Buck Fire could be seen on a NOAA-20 VIIRS Day/Night Band image at 0816 UTC or 3:16 am CDT, as viewed using RealEarth (above).

The fire continued to burn into the following day — and the burn scar could be seen in NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color and False Color images (below).

NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color and False Color RGB images [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 True Color RGB images (below) again displayed a long smoke plume that was transported southeastward. 

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

Prescribed burn in southern Wisconsin

October 19th, 2021 |

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm, top) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, bottom) images [click to play animated GIF | MP4]

1-minute Mesoscale Domain Sector GOES-16 (GOES-East) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (above) showed the smoke plume and thermal anomaly or “hot spot” (cluster of darker black pixels) associated with what was likely a prescribed burn at or near the Brooklyn Wildlife Area in south-central Wisconsin on 19 October 2021.

A toggle between the GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared image at 2027 UTC and a background Google Maps image — as viewed using RealEarth (below) — further implicated Brooklyn Wildlife Area as the likely fire source region.

GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) image at 2027 UTC, along with a Google Maps background [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 True Color RGB images created using Geo2Grid (below) offered a clearer depiction of the smoke plume, as it eventually moved northeastward over the Madison metro area.

GOES-16 True Color images [click to play animated GIF | MP4]

As the smoke plume moved over the Space Science and Engineering Center at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, the aerosol layer was detected by a rooftop High Spectral Resolution Lidar — generally within the 2-4 km altitude range (below).

UW-SSEC rooftop lidar images [click to enlarge]

A few miles to the northeast, the ceilometer at Madison Dane County Regional Airport also detected the base of the smoke plume aloft (below)

Plot of surface report data from Madison Dane County Regional Airport [click to enlarge]

Southwesterly surface wind gusts at Monroe (located about 20 miles southwest of the fire source region) were as high as 24 knots (28 mph) just before 19 UTC (below).

Plot of surface data from Monroe [click to enlarge]

Thanks to Kathy Strabala (SSEC) for bringing this case to our attention!