Stouts Fire in Oregon

GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel (left) and 3.9 µm shortwave IR channel images (right)  (click to play animation)

GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel (left) and 3.9 µm shortwave IR channel images (right) (click to play animation)

GOES-15 (GOES-West) 0.63 µm visible channel and 3.9 µm shortwave IR channel images (above; click to play animation; also available as an MP4 movie file) showed that the Stouts Fire (InciWeb | Wildfire Today) began to rapidly intensify in southwestern Oregon around 2030 UTC (1:30 pm local time) on 30 July 2015.

GOES-15 10.7 µm IR images (below; click image to play animation; also available as an MP4 movie file) indicated that the cloud-top IR brightness temperature (BT) became colder than -40º C (bright green color enhancement) after about 0100 UTC on 31 July, becoming the first verified pyroCb in the Lower 48 States for the 2015 wildfire season. The IR BT continued to cool to around -50º C (yellow color enhancement) after 0200 UTC.

GOES-15 10.7 µm IR channel images (click to play animation)

GOES-15 10.7 µm IR channel images (click to play animation)

A NOAA-18 AVHRR image at 0139 UTC (below; courtesy of Rene Servranckx) indicated that the minimum IR BT was -56.1º C, which corresponded to an altitude of approximately 12.2 km based on the 31 July / 00 UTC Medford, Oregon rawinsonde. This altitude was just below the tropopause (which was defined on the sounding data to be at 12.6 km); winds at that level were southwesterly around 40 knots.

NOAA-18 AVHRR 0.63 µm visible (upper left), 3.7 µm shortwave IR (upper right), 10.8 µm IR (lower left), and false-color RGB image (lower right) [click to enlarge]

NOAA-18 AVHRR 0.63 µm visible (upper left), 3.7 µm shortwave IR (upper right), 10.8 µm IR (lower left), and false-color RGB image (lower right) [click to enlarge]

During the 0230-0300 UTC time period, there were 4 negative-polarity cloud-to-ground lightning strikes recorded beneath the Stouts Fire pyroCb cloud (below; courtesy of Nick Nauslar).

Cloud-to-ground lightning strikes (0230-0300 UTC)

Cloud-to-ground lightning strikes (0230-0300 UTC)

The fire continued to burn well into the nighttime hours; on a comparison of Suomi NPP VIIRS images at 1028 UTC or 3:28 am local time (below), an intense fire hot spot was evident on the 3.74 µm shortwave IR image (yellow to red to black color enhancement) which also showed up as a brightly glowing feature on the 0.8 µm Day/Night Band image. Because of ample illumination from a Full Moon, the Day/Night Band provided a “visible image at night” which enabled the leading edge of the pyroCb smoke to be seen spreading over northeastern Oregon, far southeastern Washington, and northern Idaho. The coldest VIIRS IR BT at that time was -50º C over northeastern Oregon.

Suomi NPP VIIRS 3.74 µµ shortwave IR, 0.8 µm Day/Night Band, and 11.45 µm IR images [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS 3.74 µµ shortwave IR, 0.8 µm Day/Night Band, and 11.45 µm IR images [click to enlarge]

On the following day (31 July), successive Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color images (below) showed that the leading edge of the Stouts Fire smoke was over eastern Montana at 1832 UTC, and over southwestern North Dakota at 2013 UTC.

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color image at 1832 UTC on 31 July [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color image at 1832 UTC on 31 July [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color image at 2013 UTC on 31 July [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color image at 2013 UTC on 31 July [click to enlarge]

This smoke transport was consistent with forward trajectories calculated using the HYSPLIT model (below).

HYSPLIT forward trajectories [click to enlarge]

HYSPLIT forward trajectories [click to enlarge]

On 31 July, Suomi NPP OMPS Aerosol Index values (below; courtesy of Colin Seftor) were as high as 5.4 over far southwestern North Dakota.

Suomi NPP OMPS Aerosol Index on 31 July [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP OMPS Aerosol Index on 31 July [click to enlarge]

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