Thick smoke from the Georgia fires

May 3rd, 2007 |

GOES-12 visible image

While the large (472,000 acre) Sweat Farm Road / Big Turnaround fire complex continued to burn for the 17th consecutive day south of Waycross, Georgia, a second fire (the 6000-acre Roundabout fire west of Waycross) was also beginning to produce very thick smoke on 02 May 2007. GOES-12 visible imagery (above; Java animation) showed the transport of the smoke — many surface stations reported smoke or haze across southeastern Georgia, northeastern Florida, and far southeastern South Carolina that day (and EPA AIRNow particle Air Quality Indices were in the “Moderate” to “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” category). It is interesting to note that parts of the smoke pall were thick enough to reduce surface heating to the point that afternoon cumulus cloud formation was inhibited — a similar effect was discussed a few days earlier on the UMBC “US Air Quality” blog.

The MODIS aerosol optical depth (AOD) product from the IDEA site (below) indicated very high AOD values of 0.8 to 1.0. The 02 May IDEA trajectory forecast suggested that much of this smoke would experience a local recirculation during the following 24-48 hours, along with a transport of some smoke northeastward along the coastal portions of South Carolina and North Carolina. The MODIS AOD product and MODIS visible imagery from the next day (03 May 2007) verified this forecast, with thick smoke remaining over the general source region, in addition to a filament of smoke reaching as far northeastward as the outer banks of North Carolina.

MODIS aerosol optical depth product