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]