GOES-14 SRSO-R: aircraft “hole punch clouds” in North and South Carolina

February 9th, 2016

GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

1-minute interval GOES-14 Super Rapid Scan Operations for GOES-R (SRSO-R) Visible (0.63 µm) images (above; also available as a large 71 Mbyte animated GIF) revealed the formation of clusters of aircraft “hole punch clouds” over central North and South Carolina on the morning of 09 February 2016. These types of cloud features form when aircraft fly through a layer of clouds composed of supercooled water droplets; particles from the jet engine exhaust act as ice condensation nuclei, causing the water droplets to turn into ice crystals (which then often fall from the cloud layer). Similar features have been discussed in previous blog posts.

A comparison of GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm, 1-km resolution) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, 4-km resolution) images (below; also available as a large 71 Mbyte animated GIF) offered evidence that the cloud material within each “hole punch” was composed of ice crystals, which exhibited colder (lighter gray) IR brightness temperatures than the surrounding supercooled water droplet clouds. It is likely that many of the hole punch features were caused by aircraft ascending from or descending to the Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina (KCLT).

GOES-14 Visible 0.63 µm (left) and Shortwave Infrared 3.9 µm (right) images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-14 Visible 0.63 µm (left) and Shortwave Infrared 3.9 µm (right) images [click to play MP4 animation]

In a comparison 1-km resolution POES AVHRR Visible (0.86 µm) and Infrared (12.0 µm) images (below), the cloud-top IR brightness temperatures in the vicinity of the hole punch features were only as cold as -20 to -24º C (cyan to blue color enhancement), which again is supportive of the cloud layer being composed of supercooled water droplets.

POES AVHRR Visible 0.86 µm) and Infrared (12.0 µm) images [click to enlarge]

POES AVHRR Visible 0.86 µm) and Infrared (12.0 µm) images [click to enlarge]

GOES-14 SRSO-R: rapidly-intensifying storm off the US East Coast

February 7th, 2016

GOES-4 Visible (0.63 µm) and Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images, with surface weather symbols plotted [click to play animation]

GOES-4 Visible (0.63 µm) and Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images, with surface weather symbols plotted [click to play animation]

One-minute interval Super Rapid Scan Operations for GOES-R (SRSO-R) Visible (0.63 µm) and Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images (above) showed the development and rapid intensification (surface analyses) of a mid-latitude cyclone just off the East Coast of the US on 07 February 2016. The storm produced moderate to heavy rainfall across eastern North Carolina, along with some light to moderate snow and sleet at a few locations.

A closer view of the GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images (below; also available as a large 85 Mbyte animated GIF) revealed the rapid motion of low-altitude clouds when gaps in the high-altitude clouds were present. Very strong winds were caused by the strong pressure gradient, with gusts as high as 72 mph, and a large Royal Caribbean cruise ship experienced some damage due to the winds (media report 1 | media report 2). The corresponding GOES-14 Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images, which also extend further in time after dark, are available here.

GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images, with surface weather symbols plotted [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images, with surface weather symbols plotted [click to play MP4 animation]

A comparison of 1-km resolution POES AVHRR Visible (0.86 µm) and Infrared (12.0 µm) images at 2202 UTC (below) displayed greater detail of the classic “cusp” signature of high clouds, indicative of an intensifying surface cyclone (VISIT lesson). At the time, wind gusts to 60 knots were seen at one the buoys off the coast of North Carolina.

POES AVHRR Visible (0.86 µm) and Infrared (12.0 µm) images [click to enlarge]

POES AVHRR Visible (0.86 µm) and Infrared (12.0 µm) images [click to enlarge]

At 0137 UTC, a closed-off low level circulation center could be seen on a POES AVHRR Infrared (12.0 µm) image (below).

POES AVHRR Infrared (12.0 µm) image [cluck to enlarge]

POES AVHRR Infrared (12.0 µm) image [cluck to enlarge]

Why 1-Minute data matters: Tracking Cloud Layers in a Winter Storm

February 5th, 2016
GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images, 1-minute time-step [click to play rocking animated gif]

GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images, 1-minute time-step [click to play rocking animated gif]

There are two animations a the top of this blog post, one with a 1-minute timestep, above, and one with a 15-minute timestep, below. The strong winter storm that hit Colorado on Monday 1 February (Blog Post) was accompanied by multiple cloud layers and snow during the day on Monday was not steady. Was it related to the holes that are present in the clouds? How easy is it to track the different clouds to predict the arrival, overhead, of a gap in the high clouds? Especially for the low clouds in eastern Colorado in this example, cloud hole tracking can be done with more confidence with 1-minute imagery. Decision Support related to short time-scale variability in snow accumulations can be done with more confidence with the 1-minute imagery.

GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images, 15-minute time-step [click to play rocking animated gif]

GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images, 15-minute time-step [click to play rocking animated gif]


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On 7 February 2016, GOES-14 in SRSO-R monitored the development of a very strong storm over the Atlantic Ocean (blog post) east of the United States. Consider the animations below, starting with the standard GOES-East time steps (nominally every 15 minutes with some gaps). If you are monitoring the storm development, or the motion of the individual convective clouds, the 15-minute temporal gaps are insufficient for confident detection of cloud motions. When, for example, does the surface circulation first appear? Do the cloud towers that appear in the 15-minute animation persist over the course of 15 minutes, or do they decay and reappear? In the succeeding animations below, at 5- and 1-minute intervals, increasing amounts of detail are present because the better temporal resolution is convincingly following features. Additionally, the precise timing of events is better captured.

GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images, 15-minute time-step [click to play animated gif]

GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images, 15-minute time-step [click to play animated gif]

GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images, 15-minute time-step [click to play animated gif]

GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images, 5-minute time-step [click to play animated gif]

GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images, 15-minute time-step [click to play animated gif]

GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images, 1-minute time-step [click to play animated gif]

The differences between 1-, 5- and 15-minute time steps are visualized in the rocking animation below. The right-most panel has a 15-minute timestep always, the middle panel starts with a 15-minute time step before switching to 5-minute, and the left-most panel shows 15-minute, 5-minute and 1-minute time steps. Note how the convective towers appear and disappear on timescales that make resolution in the 5-minute time step difficult and in the 15-minute timestep impossible. The region below is excised from the animations above, and is over the ocean south of the developing low pressure system.

GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images, 15-minute time-step (right panel), 15-minute then 5-minute time step (middle panel) and 15-minute, then 5-minute, then 1-minute time step (left panel) [click to play animated gif]

GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images, 15-minute time-step (right panel), 15-minute then 5-minute time step (middle panel) and 15-minute, then 5-minute, then 1-minute time step (left panel) [click to play animated gif]

GOES-14 SRSO-R: heavy snow in the Upper Midwest, severe thunderstorms in the Deep South

February 2nd, 2016

GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

A strong occluded mid-latitude cyclone moved from the central Plains northeastward across the Upper Midwest on 02 February 2016 (surface analyses). This storm produced a variety of precipitation, most notably heavy snow — exceeding 12 inches at some locations in Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (map) — and blizzard conditions. One-minute interval Super Rapid Scan (SRSO-R) GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images (above; also available as a large 151-Mbyte animated GIF) showed the cloud-top shadows and textured appearance that is indicative of embedded convection — in fact, many sites in Iowa and southern Wisconsin reported thundersnow which produced snowfall rates of 1-2 inches per hour.

Farther to the south, as moisture from the Gulf of Mexico was drawn northward (GOES-14 sounder Total Precipitable Water derived product images) in advance of the eastward-moving cold frontal boundary (surface analyses) associated with the aforementioned Upper Midwest storm, areas of strong to severe thunderstorms developed across the Mississippi River and Tennessee River Valley regions during the afternoon and evening hours. GOES-14 Infrared Window (10.7 µm) images (below; also available as a large 208-Mbyte animated GIF) showed the cold cloud-top IR brightness temperatures (orange to red color enhancement) exhibited by the widespread convective activity.

GOES-14 Infrared Window (10.7 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-14 Infrared Window (10.7 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

Taking a closer look at the severe thunderstorms which produced multiple tornadoes from eastern Mississippi  into far western Alabama (SPC storm reports), GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images (above; also available as a large 66-Mbyte animated GIF) revealed numerous overshooting tops; the counties where tornadoes were reported are indicated by their dashed red outlines. Another visible image animation from RAMMB/CIRA is available here. NWS storm damage surveys (Jackson MS | Birmingham AL) found EF-1 to EF-2 damage in both Mississippi and Alabama.

The corresponding GOES-14 Infrared Window (10.7 µm) images (below; also available as a large 37-Mbyte animated GIF) indicated that the coldest cloud-top IR brightness temperatures were in the -50º to -60º range (darker orange to red color enhancement), which was at or above the tropopause level according the Jackson MS and Birmingham AL rawinsonde data.

GOES-14 Infrared Window (10.7 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-14 Infrared Window (10.7 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]