Armijo Fire in SW New Mexico Detected by MODIS-GOES Hybrid 3.9 micron Imagery

An upper level trough and associated cold front crossed New Mexico on January 22, 2012 resulting in a widespread high wind event.  Around 200 pm MST, a fire was reported just west and south of Silver City in southwest New Mexico.  While first referred to as the “Whippy Fire” it was officially named the “Armijo Fire” and quickly grew to between 200 and 400 acres.  The wind-driven fire was reported to be several miles long but very narrow.

The MODIS-GOES Hybrid-PG 3.9μ product is used in our office to identify hot spots associated with fires.  Last summer we observed that the higher resolution MODIS imagery can be used for more accurate information of the ignition site, size, and active areas of wildfires.  Click on the graphic below (twice) to enlarge and view the animation, noting the following:

  • The loop starts at 1945Z (1245 pm MST) and no hot spot is evident
  • The next image is a MODIS image “stitched” into the GOES loop from 2002Z – a hot spot likely associated with the fire is depicted in the 2km resolution
  • The hot spot is not readily identifiable in the GOES imagery until 2032Z, and even at that time the signal is subtle
  • In the last image (GOES at 2232Z) nicely illustrates the east-southeast propagation of the fire

Animation of MODIS-GOES Hybrid-PG 3.9 from January 22, 2012 from 1945Z to 2232Z with observations. Dark spot is the Armijo Fire, first visible on the MODIS "stitched" image.

New Mexico State Forestry reported that the fire was contained by 8pm.

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