Thursday, July 17, 2014

Visible Satellite Shows the Smoke

Still my Favorite Analysis Tool

As my Synoptic Meteorology Professor Dr. Ken Crawford would say, "There is a lot of Meteorology happening there." Seems like that can always be said every time you look at a 1km visible satellite image. Put it into motion and then you have something truly amazing.

Here you go, I won't add any loops so no need to lock the door or dim the lights.


Stands for Geostationary Operational Earth Satellite and has 2 satellites west and east. Best I found was from Here. Great menu and offers a low and hi res version. This was from July 17th and shows the western US.
GOES West Full Disk
Provided courtesy of University of Wisconsin-Madison\
 Space Science and Engineering Center


1km Visible Images of the Current Washington State Wildfire

Washington State Visible
Got this from the NWS in Pendleton, OR
The National Weather Service has some great tools to get close up views of any area. This image was from the Pendleton, OR office. These closeup views you can really see what is happening with the weather that day. This shows the smoke from the fire complexes in Washington State along with the low clouds due to the on shore flow in Western Washington.

This Visible Satellite has some limitations:

  • Only can be used during daylight hours
  • May not distinguish between low and high clouds (Both look white)
  • Clouds and snow can look the same
But at least you can look at the earth in higher resolutions with the visible satellite and that makes it not only nice to look at but you can detect many more atmospheric processes that a low resolution would miss.

Lots of Meteorology Happening Here

Great Visible Picture of the Fires
Photo Courtesy NEXLAB-College of Dupage
 After my first job at KPAX in Missoula, MT I learned real fast how to cover wildfires. After my first Air Quality Alert in the Valley (2000 Wildfires) I saw the value of the Visible satellite image. The image shows the smoke coming from the fires in Central Washington. You can also detect the low clouds from the Pacific moving inland and remaining in the valleys.

From just this image you can determine:
  • Areas affected by the smoke
  • Inversions keeping the low clouds and the smoke trapped in the valleys.
  • An estimate of the wind direction (Northwest)
If you were to animate the image you would be able to see how the smoke was spreading. Plus from the morning to the afternoon you would be able to see if the inversion was breaking or not.

A Look from Below

Washington Department of Transportation

Smoke has lifted just a bit but you can see the extent of the smoke in this traffic camera which is in Western Washington.

Another Great Resource is NASA

NASA Earth Observatory
Courtesy NASA

 One site that always deserves a daily visit is  NASA Earth Observatory. It is not just a satellite gallery but also contains many other graphics that result from NASA research. Along with the image they will often highlight certain features and offer an explanation on the impact of the event.

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