Refinery Explosion and Fire in Superior WI

April 26th, 2018 |

GOES-16 ABI “Red Visible” (0.64 µm) from 1532-2027 UTC on 26 April 2018 (Click to enlarge)

Explosions at an oil refinery in Superior WI on 26 April 2018 (news link) produced a black plume of smoke visible in the GOES-16 “Red Visible” Band, the highest resolution (0.5 km at nadir) band on GOES-16. The plume is first visible at about 1717 UTC, and it then streams southeastward over northwest Wisconsin. Areas immediately downwind of the refinery were evacuated due to air quality concerns.

The explosion and subsequent fire was not sufficiently hot to be detected by the shortwave infrared 3.9 µm channel on GOES-16. However, the smoke plume is obvious in this animation, cooler than the background by 3-4ºC, and yellow in the enhancement chosen.


GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm, left) and Near-Infrared “Vegetation” (0.86 µm, right) images [click to animate]

The dark smoke plume was also evident on Near-Infrared “Vegetation” (0.86 µm) images (above), aided by the additional contrast between the dark plume and the lighter gray appearance of the land surface.

GOES-16 Natural Color images [click to animate]

GOES-16 Natural Color RGB images [click to animate]

The GOES-16 Natural Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) product (above) was also useful for identifying and tracking the smoke plume.

Aqua MODIS True Color and False Color RGB images [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS True Color and False Color RGB images [click to enlarge]

250-meter resolution Aqua MODIS True Color and False Color images from the MODIS Today site (above) provided a detailed view of the smoke plume at 1842 UTC. In the False Color image, snow cover and lake ice appear as shades of cyan.