Fires Detected by Meteorological Instrumentation across Kansas
April is prime time for prescribed burning across the Flint Hills and the plains of Kansas. Spring burning is conducted for a variety of reasons, such as preservation of native prairie grasses through weed and invasive species control, or to increase grass growth (and therefore forage yields) for grazing cattle later in the summer months. Burns finished in the springtime allow time for regrowth of the native grasses by summer, and can result in increased brood cover for native bird species such as prairie chickens, phesant and quail.
Meteorological instrumentation is able to pick up on these smoke plumes that occur from fires across the region. The first image is the Topeka NEXRAD radar and indicates light echoes that can be seen traveling to the south. These echoes are smoke and ash that are being detected by the radar from fires across the area. The radar shows lots of light echoes near the radar sites. This is actually ground clutter caused by insects, birds, and other non-meteorological echoes.
In the second image the infrared satellite shows area that are slightly warmer (i.e. fires) with the orange colors. The urban areas are also warmer. This is actually due to the urban heat island effect and not fires.
The third image is a visible satellite image, where the grey plumes of smoke can be seen across Eastern Kansas, with plumes from large fires also seen in Arkansas and Southern Missouri.