50th anniversary of the launch of ATS-1, the first geostationary satellite

December 6th, 2016

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the launch of ATS-1 on 06 December 1966. ATS-1 was the first meteorological satellite to be placed into a geostationary orbit — an example of one of the first ATS-1 visible images is seen below, and QuickTime movies are available which show animations of some early ATS-1 images. More information is available here.

ATS-1 visible image (11 December 1966)

ATS-1 visible image (11 December 1966)

Heavy rainfall and high-elevation snowfall in Hawai’i

December 2nd, 2016

GOES-15 Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images, with overlays of GFS model 500 hPa geopotential height [click to play animation]

GOES-15 Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images, with overlays of GFS model 500 hPa geopotential height [click to play animation]

6-hour interval GOES-15 (GOES-West) Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images with overlays of GFS model 500 hPa geopotential height (above) showed middle to upper tropospheric moisture that was being drawn northwestward toward Hawai’i by the circulation of a closed low centered southwest of the state during the 01-02 December 2016 period.

A closer view using 15-minute interval GOES-15 Water Vapor images (below) showed 2 distinct pulses of moisture moving across the eastern portion of the island chain. Due to the prolonged flow of moisture and the variable terrain, Flood Warnings and Winter Storm Warnings were issued for the Big Island of Hawai’i (as shown using RealEarth).

GOES-15 Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images, with hourly surface reports [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-15 Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images, with hourly surface reports [click to play MP4 animation]

Hourly images of the MIMIC Total Precipitable Water (TPW) product (below) showed the large plume of moisture, which had its roots within the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). Maximum TPW values in the vicinity of Hawai’i were in the 50-55 mm (2.0-2.2 inch) range. 24-hour rainfall amounts were as high as 6.27 inches on the island of Hawai’i and 3.67 inches on the island of Kauai.

MIMIC Total Precipitable Water product, with tropical surface analyses [click to play animation]

MIMIC Total Precipitable Water product, with tropical surface analyses [click to play animation]

===== 03 December Update =====

GOES-15 Visible (0.63 µm) images (below) provided glimpses of the snow-covered peaks of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa (circled in red) on the Big Island of Hawai’i early in the day on 03 December.

GOES-15 Visible (0.63 µm) images, with hourly surface reports [click to play animation]

GOES-15 Visible (0.63 µm) images, with hourly surface reports [click to play animation]

Gatlinburg, Tennessee wildfire

November 29th, 2016

GOES-13 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images, with METAR surface reports [click to play animation]

GOES-13 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images, with METAR surface reports [click to play animation]

Wildfires had been burning in the Great Smoky Mountains for a few weeks (see previous blog posts) as extreme to exceptional drought persisted over the region. However, on 28 November 2016 weather conditions became conducive to extreme fire behavior — and this allowed the Chimney Tops 2 Fire south of Gatlinburg, Tennessee to race rapidly northward (fire perimeter map), driven by strong southerly winds gusting to at least 30-40 knots (as were recorded in Knoxville KTYS, located about 25 miles northwest of Gatlinburg). Widespread evacuations were necessary, and at least 13 fatalities were reported.  4-km resolution GOES-13 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (above) showed the development of a fire “hot spot” (the cluster of pixels at the center of the images exhibiting a black to yellow color enhancement) during the day, before clouds moved overhead to mask the fire hot spot signature. The warmest infrared brightness temperature seen during this time period was 326.8 K (brighter yellow pixels) on the 1700 UTC image.

Even though cloud cover was increasing, a detailed view of the fire hot spot was provided by an AWIPS II image of 375-meter resolution Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) data at 1815 UTC on 28 November (below). An AWIPS I version of this image is available here. Due to the cloudiness, no discernible hot spot appeared on the lower-resolution 1815 UTC GOES-13 Shortwave Infrared image.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) image [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) image [click to enlarge]

Props to NWS meteorologist Carl Jones for spotting this somewhat unexpected result: the glow of the fire was evident on the following nighttime Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) image, even though there was a thick layer of clouds over the fire itself:


An AWIPS II image comparison of VIIRS Infrared Window (11.45 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) data at 0816 UTC on 29 November is shown below. Cloud-top Infrared Window brightness temperatures were in the -40 to -55º C range over the fire region (such air temperatures were foundd within the 9.5-10.5 km altitude range on the Nashville sounding when the cloud band was over central Tennessee at 00 UTC). While no fire hot spot signature was evident on the Shortwave Infrared image (due to masking by the clouds), the very distinct bright glow of the fire (which appeared rather large in size, due to scattering of light by the water and ice particles present in the various cloud layers) was seen on the Day/Night Band image. AWIPS I versions of these images are available here.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Infrared Window (11.45 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Infrared Window (11.45 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Additional information is available on the Wildfire Today site (post 1 | post 2 | post 3 | post 4 | post 5).

Hurricane Otto

November 22nd, 2016

GOES-13 Infrared Window (10.7 um) images [click to enlarge]

GOES-13 Infrared Window (10.7 um) images [click to enlarge]

As a follow-up to the previous Otto blog post, GOES-13 Infrared Window (10.7 um) images (above) showed Otto around the time that it became the latest hurricane on record to form in the Caribbean Sea on 22 November 2016 (NHC advisory).

A comparison of GOES-13 Visible (0.63 um) and Infrared Window (10.7 um) images (below) revealed multiple convective bursts during the day, some of which exhibited IR brightness temperatures of -80º C and colder (violet enhancement). Because of Otto’s central dense overcast, no eye was apparent in the GOES-13 imagery; even on a DMSP-16 SSMIS Microwave (85 GHz) image at 2049 UTC the eyewall was not fully closed.

GOES-13 0.63 um Visible (top) and 10.7 um Infrared Window (bottom) images [click to animate]

GOES-13 0.63 um Visible (top) and 10.7 um Infrared Window (bottom) images [click to animate]

===== 24 November Update =====

GOES-13 Infrared Window (10.7 µm) images, with hourly surface reports [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-13 Infrared Window (10.7 µm) images, with hourly surface reports [click to play MP4 animation]

As Otto slowly approached the coast of southern Nicaragua on 24 November, it rapidly intensified (SATCON plot) to a Category 2 hurricane. GOES-13 Infrared Window (10.7 µm) images (above; also available as a 36 Mbyte animated GIF) and Visible (0.63 µm) images (below; also available as a 18 Mbyte animated GIF) showed the development of an eye just offshore, which rapidly filled as the storm moved inland after 17 UTC on 24 November and began to interact with the terrain. After crossing Nicaragua and Costa Rica, an eye was once again discernible around 02 UTC on 15 November (as Otto emerged over the Pacific Ocean).

 

GOES-13 Visible (0.63 µm) images, with hourly surface reports [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-13 Visible (0.63 µm) images, with hourly surface reports [click to play MP4 animation]

Before the formation of an eye, a Suomi NPP VIIRS Infrared Window (11.45 µm) image at 0639 UTC (below; courtesy of William Straka, SSEC) showed the presence of cloud-top gravity waves propagating westward along the Nicaragua/Costa Rica border; these waves were likely a response to deep convective bursts offshore near the center of Otto.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Infrared Window (11.45 µm) image [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Infrared Window (11.45 µm) image [click to enlarge]

A comparison of DMSP-17 SSMIS Microwave (85 GHz) and GOES-13 Infrared Window (10.7 µm) images around 1115 UTC on 24 November (below) revealed a much larger (albeit not completely closed) eye signature using the microwave data.

DMSP-17 SSMIS Microwave (85 GHz) and GOES-13 Infrared Window (10.7 µm) images around 1145 UTC [click to enlarge]

DMSP-17 SSMIS Microwave (85 GHz) and GOES-13 Infrared Window (10.7 µm) images around 1145 UTC [click to enlarge]

Otto became the southernmost landfalling hurricane on record for Central America. It was also the strongest hurricane on record for so late in the season within the Atlantic basin.

DMSP-18 SSMIS Microwave (85 GHz) image [click to enlarge]

DMSP-18 SSMIS Microwave (85 GHz) image [click to enlarge]

A DMSP-18 SSMIS Microwave (85 GHz) image at 0043 UTC on 25 November (above) showed that the eye of Otto was still well-defined as it began to move into northern Costa Rica (making this the first hurricane or tropical storm on record for that country). The eye structure could be tracked on MIMIC-TC imagery (below) as it moved inland from the Atlantic Ocean, across far southern Nicaragua and far northern Costa Rica, and eventually emerged over the Pacific Ocean after about 03 UTC on 25 November.

Morphed MIMIC-TC imagery, 24-25 November [click to enlarge]

Morphed MIMIC-TC imagery, 24-25 November [click to enlarge]

===== 26 November Update =====

Suomi NPP VIIRS Infrared Window (11.45 µm) and Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Infrared Window (11.45 µm) and Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) images [click to enlarge]

As Tropical Storm Otto was weakening during its west-southwestward motion over Pacific Ocean waters with low Ocean Heat Content, nighttime images of Suomi NPP VIIRS Infrared Window (11.45 µm) and Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) data at 0744 UTC on 26 November (above; courtesy of William Straka, SSEC) displayed shorter-wavelength cloud-top gravity waves on the Infrared image and longer-wavelength mesospheric airglow waves (reference) on the Day/Night Band image (all of which were propagating west-southwestward away from the deep convective cluster near the center of Otto). Bright lightning streaks were also seen on the Day/Night Band image.

More facts on the historic aspects of Otto are available from The Weather Channel and Weather Underground; see the National Hurricane Center and the CIMSS Tropical Cyclones websites for the latest information on this storm.