A wildfire developed in northern California during the early morning hours of 8 November 2018. The “Camp Fire”, as it was named, spread quickly within very windy and dry weather conditions. GOES-16 captured the development and rapid spread of the fire best in the CONUS sector (5-min) 3.9 um shortwave IR channel, which is especially sensitive to heat from a wildfire (Fig 1).
With sunrise shortly thereafter, the 5-min visible imagery from GOES-16 revealed the impressive smoke plume emanating from the fire, and quickly spreading southwest within the strong flow (Fig 2).
Comparisons can be made between the previous generation imager on GOES-15 and the new Advanced Baseline Imager on GOES-16 (Fig 3). GOES-15 is now at 128W, which is close to the longitude of northern California, meaning the IR pixel area won’t be too much larger than the 4 km found at nadir. GOES-16, however, at 75.2W will see pixel area increased considerably over northern California, from 2 km at nadir to around 8 km. However, GOES-16 provides significantly better temporal resolution of 5-min vs 15-30 min resolution of GOES-15.
Similarly for the vis comparison (Fig 4), GOES-15 pixel area will be close to the 1 km found at nadir, and GOES-16 closer to 2 km (vs 0.5 km at nadir).
A GOES-16 1-min mesoscale sector was positioned over the region starting at 1830 UTC to support wildfire monitoring efforts (Fig 5).
Bill Line, NWS