Friday, July 27, 2018

The Catastrophic Carr Fire

Thermal anomalies (red) and smoke from the Carr Fire as seen from Aqua/MODIS 26 July 2018
A catostrophic situation is unfolding in northern California where the Carr Fire is threatening communities in and around Redding.

The latest incident information from Cal Fire indicates that as of 9:17 AM this morning (27 July), the Carr Fire has burned 44, 450 acres, destroyed 65 structures, and damaged 55 structures.  Only 3% contained, the fire is currently threatening almost 5,000 structures, with numerous evacuations and road closures.  News reports indicate that the fire has now claimed the lives of two firefighters.

News footage of the fire is simply unbelievable.  Below are a couple of perspectives on rotating updrafts associated with the fire.

The rotation was clearly evident in Doppler velocity imagery from the Beal Air Force Base, posted by U of U mountain meteorology alum Neil Lareau.  In this image, red indicates flow away from the radar, which is to the south, and blue flow towards the radar.  In this case, the radar is sensing ash, not precipitation. 
Redding is a hot place in summer, but the situation right now is inferno like.  The average high for yesterday and today is 100ºF at the Redding airport a bit southeast of the fire.  Yesterday it hit 113˚F, a new record for the day, with a relative humidity that dropped below 10%.

Winds have not been as insane as they were during the Tubbs Fire that affected Santa Rosa, but looking at stations around the area, I can find locations with wind gusts to 20 mph yesterday afternoon.

Forecast highs for Today through Monday are 110˚F, 110˚F, 109˚F, and 107˚F. 


  1. Scary stuff considering that we have the same dry/hot here in northern Utah.

  2. Use the NOAA-RAMMB online lopper to create a dramatic video of the ignition as seen from GEOS 16. Use the GEOS-West Floater 1km image archive and set the looper dates from start 2018-07-26 23:00 UTC and end 2018-07-27 3:00 UTC. The ignition is so violent that it looks like a bomb went off. Kurt