Critical fire weather conditions aided the ignition and spread of several wildfires across the southern high plains on 3 March 2018. One such wildfire developed and spread quickly in Washington County of northeast Colorado, between Limon and Fort Morgan. GOES-16 and radar imagery captured the wildfire evolution.
The 2 km 3.9 um GOES-16 ABI channel provides the most reliable/quickest means of detecting a newly developed wildfire hot spot. The color-table in the animation below highlights hot spots as dark grays to black to yellow for the hottest temperatures (Fig 1). The hot spot associated with the Washington County wildfire is first detectable in 3.9 um channel imagery at 1832 UTC, and heats up and spreads quickly to the north over the next several hours. After 2100 UTC, the hot spot begins to cool.
Within a half hour of the hot spot detection, smoke from the wildfire can be diagnosed in 0.5 km 0.64 um visible channel from GOES-16 (Fig 2). Further, the scorched earth left behind by the wildfire is also obvious in the visible channel.
Smoke from the wildfire can also be detected in KFTG radar imagery starting at 1929 UTC (Fig 3). Very low values of correlation coefficient help confirm smoke (Fig 4).
Smoke from the wildfire was captured in the Last Chance, CO Viaero camera (Fig 5).
Bill Line, NWS