Just prior to midnight on November 28, 2013, a 30 inch natural gas pipeline ruptured and caught fire in rural Pettis County in West Central Missouri. This rupture, between Houstonia and Hughesville, MO caused a massive fire above the pipeline. Because of the large fire, the glow surrounding the fire could be seen upwards of 40+ miles away (News Link). The fire first began showing up on the Kansas City (KEAX) WFO’s radar nearly immediately after the explosion. The reflectivity scan below is showing the smoke and ash plume.
The fire would continue overnight and eventually burn out. Because the fire was seen so far way, it was not until morning when the author, who actually is from the area, decided to look to see if the fire could be seen from any of the satellite overpasses that occurred during the night. Below is an image from the Visible Infrared Imager Radiometer (VIIRS) Day Night Band , aboard the Suomi National Polar Orbiting Satellite taken during the ~07:30 UTC (1:30AM CST) pass.
The very noticeable bright spot in Northern Pettis County (just west of the US 65 tag) corresponds to the KEAX’s radar signature. Further investigation of the previous days’ satellite imagery showed the only lights in the area were three dim light sources that appeared daily.
The Day Night Band is a visible image with 750 meter spatial resolution (More Info). The VIIRS product suite also includes other visible and infrared bands used for looking at clouds, aerosols, and fires at varying spatial resolutions. VIIRS has a high resolution (350 m) long wave infrared band that has a spectral bandwidth of 10.6-12.4 µm. This band is typically used for cloud imagery, but because sky conditions were clear, the surface of the Earth was visible. Due to temperature differences between the temperature of the fire and the surrounding land surface, a faint black dot is visible in the image at the location of the fire, indicating a heat source.