Blowing Dust over northern Montana

May 24th, 2017 |

GOES-16 Visible Imagery (0.64 µm) from 1707 through 1802 UTC on 24 May 2017 (Click to enlarge)

GOES-16 data posted on this page are preliminary, non-operational data and are undergoing testing

The strong pressure gradient around a Low Pressure system over Alberta and Saskatchewan caused strong winds over northern Montana on 24 May 2017, and blowing dust was the result, especially over Hill and Blaine Counties. The visible animation, above, from 1707 to 1802 UTC on 24 May, shows a faint hazy signature along the border of Canada.  The emphasis is on the word ‘faint’ — it is very difficult to pick out the signature unless you know it’s there already  (Thanks to MIC Tanja Fransen at WFO Glasgow for alerting us to this event).  The ‘Blue’ Visible band animation (below) similarly shows the dust, but it is not distinct in this band either.  (*Note* — part of this, of course, is because the default enhancement for visible imagery has been used.  If the ‘low light’ enhancement is applied, the dust signature is more apparent. This visible animation from 1502-2122, courtesy Tanja Fransen, more obviously shows the dust).

GOES-16 Visible Imagery (0.47 µm) from 1707 through 1802 UTC on 24 May 2017 (Click to enlarge)

Brightness Temperature Difference products are routinely available in AWIPS. The Split-Window Difference (SWD), below, shows the difference between the ‘Clean Infrared Window’ (10.33 µm) and the ‘Dirty Infrared Window’ (12.3 µm) (‘Clean’ and ‘Dirty’ referring to a little and more, respectively, water vapor absorption) has historically been used to detect dust: dust will absorb 10.33 µm radiation but it will not absorb 12.3 µm radiation, thus the SWD can highlight regions of dust.  However, that difference is also influenced by water vapor above the dust, and by the type of dust being lofted.

Split Window Difference (10.33 µm – 12.2 µm) from 1707 to 1802 UTC, 24 May 2017 (Click to enlarge)

The Cloud Phase Difference (8.5 µm – 11.2 µm) also can highlight regions of dust, and for this case the signal of dust was a bit more distinct.

Cloud Phase Brightness Temperature Difference (8.5 µm – 11.2 µm) from 1707 to 1802 UTC, 24 May 2017 (Click to enlarge)

Surface data plotted over the 0.64 µm at 1712 UTC, below, show the strong winds in the region (Here is an image at 1802 UTC). Visibilities in the dust were reported to be near zero.

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm) at 1712 UTC and 1700 UTC surface observations (Click to enlarge)

A Terra MODIS true-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) image at 1745 UTC, below, revealed that the source of some of the most dense dust plumes appeared to be uncultivated fields located north and northeast of Havre.

Terra MODIS true-color RGB image (Click to enlarge)

Terra MODIS true-color RGB image (Click to enlarge)

(Added: Stuart Lawrence, south of Rosetown in east-central Saskatchewan, tweeted out this video that showed the dust storm there. He reported winds up to 98 km/hour). Here is another image of the dust in Saskatchewan.

The GOES Aerosol/Smoke Products (GASP) showed a noticeable signal for this dust. Here is an animation from 1315-2145 UTC.)

Mid/upper-level deformation zone over the East Pacific Ocean?

May 23rd, 2017 |

GOES-15 Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images, with pilot reports of turbulence [click to play animation]

GOES-15 Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images, with pilot reports of turbulence [click to play animation]

An interesting linear feature appeared over the East Pacific Ocean on GOES-15 (GOES-West) Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images (above) on 23 May 2017, which at first glance immediately nominated it for the “What the heck is this?” blog category. A contrail was ruled out, since it was not oriented along a common or busy flight route — so potential large-scale dynamic processes were briefly investigated. Since the linear feature was perpendicular to the busy California/Hawaii flight route, pilot reports of turbulence are plotted on the water vapor images; two reports of light turbulence at altitudes of 33,000-34,000 feet (at 0918 and 1109 UTC) appeared to be close enough to have possibly been related to the linear feature.

GOES-15 Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images, with contours of satellite wind derived upper-level divergence [click to enlarge]

GOES-15 Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images, with contours of satellite wind derived Upper-Level Divergence [click to enlarge]

Satellite atmospheric motion vector (AMV) derived products such as Upper-Level Divergence (above) calculated at 3-hour intervals (source) revealed an area of divergence focused near the area of the linear satellite image feature — around 30º N, 140º W, at the center of the images — which reached its peak intensity at 12 UTC; this suggested that the feature may have formed along the axis of the sharp deformation zone between two upper-level lows over the East Pacific Ocean (mid/upper level winds | 200 hPa Vorticity product).

GOES-15 sounder Water Vapor (6.5 µm, top; 7.0 µm, middle; 7.5 µm, bottom) images [click to enlarge]

GOES-15 sounder Water Vapor (6.5 µm, top; 7.0 µm, middle; 7.5 µm, bottom) images [click to enlarge]

Unfortunately, this region was not within the view of Himawari-8 or GOES-16 (each of which provide 2-km resolution water vapor imagery at 3 atmospheric levels). However, the GOES-15 sounder instrument has 3 similar water vapor bands (above) — albeit at a more coarse 10-km spatial resolution at satellite sub-point — which showed the linear “deformation axis cloud signature” at all 3 levels of the atmosphere. The GOES-15 sounder water vapor weighting functions for a “typical” US Standard Atmosphere are shown below.

GOES-15 sounder Water Vapor band weighting functions [click to enlarge]

GOES-15 sounder Water Vapor band weighting functions [click to enlarge]

Mud Creek landslide along the California coast

May 22nd, 2017 |



As seen in the Tweet above from NWS San Francisco Bay Area, a major landslide occurred along the California coast in the Big Sur area (at Mud Creek) during the nighttime hours on 20 May 2017. A large portion of coastal Highway 1 was closed by the massive amount of debris.

A timely overpass of the Landsat-8 satellite at 1840 UTC on 22 May (along with the cooperation of a gap in cloudiness) provided 30-meter resolution false-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) imagery (source) which showed the landslide debris extending off the coast and into the adjacent nearshore water of the Pacific Ocean (below).

Landsat-8 false-color images [click to enlarge]

Landsat-8 false-color images [click to enlarge]

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Fog/stratus in the Strait of Juan de Fuca

May 20th, 2017 |

** The GOES-16 data posted on this page are preliminary, non-operational data and are undergoing testing. **

As seen in a Tweet from NWS Seattle/Tacoma (above), a plume of fog/stratus moved rapidly eastward through the Strait of Juan de Fuca on 20 May 2017. A closer view of GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm) images (below; also available as an MP4 animation) shows the formation of “bow shock waves” as the leading edge of the low-level fog/stratus plume encountered the sharply-angled land surface of Whidbey Island at the far eastern end of the Strait near sunset — surface observations indicated that the visibility at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island was reduced to 0.5 mile just after the time of the final 0327 UTC image in the animation.

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm) images, with hourly plots of surface reports [click to play animation]

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm) images, with hourly plots of surface reports [click to play animation]

A Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.6 µm) image with RTMA surface winds (below) indicated that westerly/northwesterly wind speeds were generally around 15 knots at 21 UTC (just after the primary fog/stratus plume began to move into the western end of the Strait). Four hours later, there was a northwesterly wind gust of 27 knots at Sheringham, British Columbia (CWSP).

Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) images, with RTMA surface winds plotted in cyan [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) images, with RTMA surface winds plotted in cyan [click to enlarge]

During the following nighttime hours, a Suomi NPP VIIRS infrared Brightness Temperature Difference (11.45 – 3.74 µm) “Fog/Stratus Product” image at 0910 UTC (below) revealed that the fog/stratus plume covered much of the Strait (especially along the Washington coast), and that the leading edge had begun to spread both northward and southward from Whidbey Island. In addition, note the presence of a linear ship track (darker red enhancement) extending southwestward from Cape Flattery.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Infrared brightness temperature difference (11.45 - 3.74 µm)

Suomi NPP VIIRS infrared Brightness Temperature Difference (11.45 – 3.74 µm) “Fog/Stratus Product” image, with RTMA surface winds plotted in cyan [click to enlarge]

Bill Line (NWS Pueblo) showed the nighttime fog/stratus monitoring capability of a GOES-16 infrared Brightness Temperature Difference product:


On a side note, in the upper right portion of the GOES-16 (as well as the VIIRS) visible images one can also see the hazy signature of glacial sediment  flowing from the Fraser River westward into the Strait of Georgia. Longer-term changes in the pattern of this glacial sediment are also apparent in a comparison of Terra MODIS true-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) images (source) from 20 April, 07 May and 20 May 2017 (below).

 

Terra MODIS true-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS true-color RGB images [click to enlarge]