Crittenburg Complex of wildfires in North Texas

March 27th, 2022 |

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm, top left), Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, top right), Fire Power (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), Fire Power and Fire Temperature (above) displayed the smoke plumes and thermal signature of the Crittenburg Complex of wildfires that developed south-southwest of Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas on 27 March 2022. Thermal signatures became evident around 1600 UTC or 11:00 am CDT; within 3 hours this fire was burning very hot, with 3.9 µm Shortwave Infrared brightness temperatures reaching 138.71ºC — the saturation temperature of ABI Band 7 detectors — as early as 1900 UTC. The Fire Temperature and Fire Power derived products are components of the GOES Fire Detection and Characterization Algorithm FDCA.

GOES-16 True Color RGB images created using Geo2Grid (below) showed that the smoke plume eventually drifted north-northeastward over parts of the Dallas-Fort Worth metro area.

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

A toggle between Suomi-NPP VIIRS True Color RGB and False Color RGB images at 2032 UTC is shown below. The images were downloaded and processed via the Direct Broadcast ground station at SSEC/CIMSS, and are available for AWIPS via LDM subscription.

Suomi-NPP VIIRS True Color RGB and False Color RGB images at 2032 UTC [click to enlarge]

About 12 hours later, nighttime signatures of the Crittenburg Complex were still apparent in Suomi-NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) images (below). The lights just north of the fire (seen in Day/Night Band imagery) were likely due to firefighting assets in that area, working to slow the northward spread of the fire.

Suomi-NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Walmart Distribution Center fire near Indianapolis

March 16th, 2022 |

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

GOES-16 (GOES-East) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm). Fire Power and Fire Temperature products (above) displayed signatures of a fire at the Walmart Distribution Center in Plainfield, Indiana on 16 March 2022. The fire was first detected at 1646 UTC, and an hour later the 3.9 µm Shortwave Infrared brightness temperature reached 74.1ºC at 1746 UTC — the maximum derived Fire Temperature value was 580.74 K, and Fire Power values peaked at 433.72 MW (the Fire Temperature and Fire Power derived products are components of the GOES Fire Detection and Characterization Algorithm FDCA).

GOES-16 True Color RGB images from the CSPP GeoSphere site are shown below; the initial cloud of dark black smoke began to move across the Indiana/Ohio border around 23 UTC.

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

A sequence of VIIRS True Color RGB, False Color RGB and Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) images from NOAA-20 and Suomi-NPP are shown below. These VIIRS images were acquired and processed by the Direct Broadcast ground station at SSEC/CIMSS — and are available for display in AWIPS via a Unidata LDM subscription.

VIIRS True Color RGB, False Color RGB and Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) images from NOAA-20 and Suomi-NPP [click to enlarge]

The eastern edge of the smoke plume passed over Indianapolis Eagle Creek Airport (KEYE), located about 5 miles north-northeast of the fire — since the smoke had been lofted to altitudes of 7,000-10,000 feet, it did not affect the surface visibility at that site.

Time series of surface observation data from Indianapolis Eagle Creek Airport [click to enlarge]

Ice on Lake Superior

March 15th, 2022 |

Ice coverage on Lake Superior has reached a seasonal peak. The image above shows VIIRS true-color imagery from Suomi-NPP (taken from the VIIRS Today website). Mostly clear skies over most of Superior on 14 March allowed for better estimates of ice cover on that day from VIIRS (more clouds were present on 15 March).

Ice-cover mapping from NOAA’s GLERL (The Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory), shown below (from this website) also shows extensive ice cover over Lake Superior. (Blue regions indicate open water.)

Great Lakes Ice Cover analysis, 14 March 2022 (Click to enlarge)

The analysis below (also from the GLERL site, at this link) shows how the ice cover has varied over the course of the winter over Superior. The present maximum is the largest ice extent of the season — and the ice cover is greater than normal. Ice cover over Superior typically peaks in early March.

Lake Superior Ice Coverage, winter 2022 (Click to enlarge)

When clouds are present (and when they are not!), Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imagery (available in near-real time at this website) gives very high-resolution information about ice formation on Lakes. The image below shows the Normalized Radar Cross Section (NRCS) from 15 March 2022 just before 1200 UTC. Open water is indicated (flat black surfaces) just east of the Keewenaw Peninsula, just east of Isle Royale, in a strip along the western shore of the lake, and in a large region in central Lake Superior to the east of the tip of the Keewenaw Peninsula.

Synthetic Aperture Radar NRCS imagery from the RADARSAT Constellation Mission Satellite 2 (RCM2) over Lake Superior ,

NOAA/STAR does have a Great-Lakes specific SAR website that includes imagery mapped to all 5 Great Lakes. (Link). The mp4 animation below, using images from that website, shows the 11 most recent Lake Superior images of NRCS, ending at ca. 1200 UTC on 15 March. A lot of the views include Duluth Harbor.

NRCS imagery over Lake Superior, 11-15 March 2022 (Click to enlarge)

Wildfires on Guam

March 14th, 2022 |
Himawari-8 imagery shortwave infrared (3.89 µm) imagery, 1710 UTC on 13 March 2022 to 0630 UTC on 14 March 2022

Strong surface tradewinds over Guam, and the dry season over Guam, combined on 14 March to allow short-lived wildfires. The shortwave-infrared imagery above, color-enhanced so white pixels are warmest, shows occasional flare-ups over the southern half of the island between 2200 and 0400 UTC, and then again closer to 0600 UTC over central Guam (Note also how the island warms up — becomes whiter in the color enhancement used — during the day).

How strong were the surface winds that fanned the flames? ASCAT imagery from Metop-B, shown below at (shown during the day with visible imagery) shows surface winds around 15-20 knots.

ASCAT winds and Himawari-8 Band 3 visible (0.64 µm) imagery (during the day, 1131 and 2318 UTC on 13 March 2022 (Click to enlarge)

Sequential visible images can also be used to estimate wind speeds. The toggle below shows visible imagery between 0310 and 0320 UTC on 14 March. The cloud line over southern Guam moving west-southwestward towards the surrounding ocean moves about 4 nautical miles in the 10 minutes: at about 25 knots (latitude/longitude point distance separation can be computed here).

Himawari-8 Band 3 (Red Visible, 0.64 µm) imagery, 0310 and 0320 UTC on 14 March 2022 (Click to enlarge); a distance scale is included

The strong winds allowed for occasional flareups. Consider the animation below between 0610 and 0630 UTC of the shortwave infrared (3.89 µm) imagery. An obvious hot spot (in white) is present at 0610 and 0620 UTC, but at 0630 UTC it has either been extinguished, or it’s been covered by clouds (or both!)

Himawari-8 Band 7 (Shortwave Infrared, 3.89 µm) imagery, 0610, 0620 and 0630 UTC on 14 March 2022 (Click to enlarge)

Himawari-8 Level 2 products diagnose fire hot spots, and are available from this website. A hotspot is diagnosed at 0600, 0610 and 0620 UTC on 14 March (no hotspot was diagnosed at 0630 UTC). Work is ongoing to get this level 2 Product (and others, such as derived motion wind vectors) into AWIPS.

Diagnosed wild fires from Himawari-8, 0600-0620 UTC on 14 March 2022 (Click to enlarge)

AWIPS imagery in this post was created using the NOAA/NESDIS TOWR-S AWIPS in the cloud instance.


Brandon Bukunt, WFO GUM, supplied the VIIRS shortwave infrared (3.74 µm) imagery (from data downloaded from the Direct Broadcast antenna at the office, and processed with CSPP Software) below. Three wildfires are circled. Note the brightness temperature of 63 C over southern Guam!

VIIRS I04 (3.74 µm) imagery, 13 March 2022, ca. 0800 UTC (Click to enlarge)

The photograph below (courtesy Eric Lau) from a plane landing at Guam shows fires burning.