White Rock Fire along the Nevada/Utah border

June 2nd, 2012 |
GOES-15 (left) and GOES-13 (right) 0.63 µm visible images (click image to play animation)

GOES-15 (left) and GOES-13 (right) 0.63 µm visible images (click image to play animation)

The White Rock Fire — likely caused by a lightning strike — began in far eastern Nevada (near the Nevada/Utah border) late in the day on 01 June 2012. The fire quickly grew in size on 02 June — and a comparison of GOES-15 (GOES-West) and GOES-13 (GOES-East) 0.63 µm visible channel images (above; click image to play animation) offered another good example of how the viewing ange of different satellites can help to highlight different features associated with a large wildfire.

An abundance of dry fuels helped this to become a very hot fire, which produced bursts of pyrocumulus clouds which rose high above the top of the thick smoke plume. With the afternoon sun in the west, the view from the GOES-West satellite yeilded bright illumination of the overshooting pyrocumulus towers, while the view from GOES-East gave a better view of the long shadows cast by the pyrocumulus towers. In addition, with a favorable forward scattering angle later in the day, GOES-East also provided a better depiction of the areal coverage of the airborne smoke (03 June / 01:00 UTC image comparison).

Sadly, an air tanker carrying fire retardant to help contain this wildfire crashed on the afternoon of 03 June, killing both crewmembers.