Fire weather is usually not the most significant weather concern across northern Alabama. However, dry weather periods in the early-to-mid spring often bring fires to the forefront for NWS Huntsville meteorologists. This was certainly the case on Friday, March 18, as two prescribed burns covering about 2000 acres (or 8 square kilometers) took place in Bankhead National Forest southwest of the Huntsville-Decatur metro area. (In fact, southwesterly winds blew smoke into the metro area during the afternoon and evening hours.)
The MODIS-GOES Hybrid 3.9-micron imagery for the GOES-R Proving Ground had an interesting perspective of the burns. The GOES-only image at 1915 UTC, not surprisingly, shows a rather sizable “hotspot” in southern Lawrence County, Alabama (denoted by the yellow arrow).
However, the 2-kilometer MODIS-enhanced hybrid image at 1901 UTC indicated two much smaller hotspots, each only about 1 pixel in size. While the two burns occurred in very close proximity, they were not one large complex–a detail that the MODIS-enhanced hybrid imagery was able to detect. It’s also interesting to note that the enhanced imagery also indicates a smoke plume that the GOES imagery misses, and regional bodies of water and urban areas also show up very nicely on the MODIS image.
From another perspective, the 500-meter MODIS natural-color image from the same pass highlighted how many sizable fires were ongoing across Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee Friday.