As the spring season accelerates into summer, it is that time of year again for fires to occur all around the United States. A large fire that is a-brewing is the West Mims Fire located in southern Georgia, embedded in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. As of 11 May 2017, the fire, initially started by lightning, has burnt over 140,000 acres and is still raging on. To add insult to injury, southern Georgia has not received much precipitation over the past few months where the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is currently in a D3, Extreme Drought as of 9 may 2017. A category D3 Extreme Drought is classified as an area that is susceptible to the listed impacts: major crop losses and potential widespread water shortages or restrictions, according to the US Drought Monitor. The latest updates of the West Mims Fire can be seen via the InciWeb link.
Here are the latest Day/Night Band (DNB) (0.7 um) and Imagery Band (I-4) (3.74um) animations from the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on-board the Suomi-National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite. For reference, the DNB utilizes a sun/moon reflectance model that illuminates atmospheric features, senses emitted lights, and assists in cloud monitoring the nighttime, while the I-4 band shows the locations of the hottest wildfires, known as ‘hotspots‘. The DNB is at 750 meter resolution while the I-4 band is at 375 meter spatial resolution. The animations are from 5-12 May 2017.
Animation highlights the evolution of the wildfires in southern Georgia denoted by the large white circle. Some of the features that are seen are the emitted city lights and the emitted lights from the fires, corresponding smoke, clouds and one can infer the location of the burn scar extent. Additionally, in the top-right hand corner shows the moon percent visibility and the moon elevation angle. A high moon percent visibility and a positive moon elevation angle imply the moon is above the horizon and adequate moonlight is present to see the atmospheric features via satellite.
Imagery Band (I-4 ) Animation
Over the same domain, the IR animation shows the brightness temperatures of the fires from a range of 180-400 degrees Kelvin (K), where yellow and red colors imply the hottest parts of the fires. In contrast, the white, grey and black colors imply cold low-to-high clouds in the area. The evolution of the fire can be seen at a high spatial resolution at 375 meters.