Transverse banding: a signature of potential turbulence

July 20th, 2016 |

GOES-13 Infrared Window (10.7 um) images, pilot reports of turbulence, Turbulence AIRMET boundaries [click to play animation]

GOES-13 Infrared Window (10.7 um) images, pilot reports of turbulence, Turbulence AIRMET boundaries [click to play animation]

GOES-13 (GOES-East) Infrared Window (10.7 µm) images (above) showed the formation of tendrils of transverse banding along the northern semicircle of  decaying mesoscale convective systems as they moved eastward across Nebraska and Iowa on 19 July 2016. Pilot reports of turbulence are plotted on the images, along with Turbulence AIRMET polygons issued at 0800 UTC and 1400 UTC. Most of the pilot reports of turbulence were in the Light to Moderate category, although there was one report of Moderate to Severe intensity at 1612 UTC over eastern Iowa.

The corresponding GOES-13 Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images (below) perhaps highlighted the transverse banding features a bit better at times, since the weighting function for that spectral band generally peaks in the middle to upper troposphere where the transverse banding cloud features existed.

GOES-13 Water Vapor (6.5 um) images, pilot reports of turbulence, Turbulence AIRMET boundaries [click to play animation]

GOES-13 Water Vapor (6.5 um) images, pilot reports of turbulence, Turbulence AIRMET boundaries [click to play animation]

A sequence of Infrared Window images from POES AVHRR (10.8 µm) and Suomi NPP VIIRS (11.45 µm) (below) showed a higher-resolution view of the initial formation of transverse banding during the 0411 to 1008 UTC time period.

Infrared Window images from POES AVHRR (10.8 µm) and Suomi NPP VIIRS (11.45 µm) [click to enlarge]

Infrared Window images from POES AVHRR (10.8 µm) and Suomi NPP VIIRS (11.45 µm) [click to enlarge]

Shown below are two other types of satellite imagery that can be helpful for identifying the areal extent of transverse banding cloud features: the Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm), and the MODIS Cirrus band (1.37 µm). A similar Cirrus band will be part of the ABI instrument on GOES-R.

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]

Terra MODIS Infrared Window (11.0 µm) and Cirrus (1.37 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS Infrared Window (11.0 µm) and Cirrus (1.37 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Mesoscale Convective System exhibiting cloud-top gravity waves and transverse banding

July 6th, 2012 |
Suomi NPP VIIRS 11.45 µm IR  + 0.7 µm Day/Night Band images

Suomi NPP VIIRS 11.45 µm IR + 0.7 µm Day/Night Band images

A comparison of AWIPS images of 375-meter resolution (projected onto a 1-km AWIPS grid) Suomi NPP VIIRS 11.45 µm IR channel data with the corresponding 0.7 µm VIIRS Day/Night Band (above) showed a large Mesocale Convective System (MCS) with an expansive cold cloud shield (exihibiting IR brightness temperatures as cold as -84 C) over parts of North Dakota and South Dakota at 08:43 UTC (3:43 AM local time) on 06 July 2012. A number of well-defined cloud-top gravity waves could also be seen propagating northward and northeastward outward away from the core of the storm. There was a damaging wind report at 09:03 UTC in south-central North Dakota:  SW WIND GUST OF 68 MPH AT 403 AM CDT...AND N WIND GUST OF 68 MPH AT 408 AM CDT. Illumination from a full moon made convective overshooting tops and some of these cloud-top gravity waves easy to see on the Day/Night Band image.

About 2 hours later, these cloud-top gravity waves wee more difficult to identify on a 1-km resolution POES AVHRR 10.8 µm IR image (below) at 10.32 UTC (5:32 AM local time), although a few could still be seen in eastern North Dakota, western Minnesota and southern Manitoba. There was a wind gust to 51 knots (59 mph) reported at 10:40 UTC in southeastern North Dakota.

POES AVHRR 10.8 µm IR channel image + METAR surface reports and severe wind reports

POES AVHRR 10.8 µm IR channel image + METAR surface reports and severe wind reports

As the MCS began to dissipate around sunrise, a vivid display of transverse banding cirrus filaments could be seen on 1-km resolution GOES-13 0.63 µm visible channel images (below; click image to play animation) forming along the southern periphery of the storm over eastern South Dakota, southern Minnesota, and far northern Iowa. This transverse banding is a satellite signature of potential high-altitude turbulence — and there was one pilot report of moderate turbulence at 38,00 feet in eastern South Dakota.

GOES-13 0.63 µm visible channel images (click image to play animation)

GOES-13 0.63 µm visible channel images (click image to play animation)

 

Transverse banding: a satellite signature of potential turbulence

March 7th, 2008 |

GOES-12 IR images (Animated GIF)

AWIPS images of the GOES-12 10.7 µm IR channel (above) revealed 2 separate periods where packets of “transverse banding” (thin, banded cloud elements oriented perpendicular to the ambient flow) were forming over parts of Florida, Alabama, and Georgia on 07 March 2008. These transverse bands were located at high altitudes along the western edge of the large convective cloud mass that was moving across the region; severe thunderstorms along the eastern flank of this line produced several tornadoes in northern Florida and southern Georgia (including a tornado responsible for 2 fatalities near Lake City, Florida).

A comparison of the 4-km resolution GOES-12 IR image at 16:32 UTC with the 1-km resolution NOAA-17 AVHRR IR image at 16:20 UTC (below) shows a closer view of one area of transverse banding moving over the Florida panhandle region, and demonstrates that more accurate identification of this type of small-scale cloud feature is possible with improved spatial resolution satellite imagery. The IR channels available on the Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) instrument on GOES-R will provide 2-km resolution data, which should improve the ability to detect subtle features such as transverse banding.

GOES-12 + NOAA-17 IR images

There were large areas across the southeastern US that were covered by aviation AIRMET (Airmen’s Meteorological Information) turbulence advisories (outlined in yellow, below), but these advisories were for locations a bit farther to the west than the transverse banding seen on the satellite imagery. In fact, there were indeed a couple of pilot reports of high-altitude turbulence indicated near the regions of transverse banding.

GOES-12 IR image + aviation advisories

In addition to the AIRMET advisories, there was also a SIGMET (Significant Meteorological Information, outlined in red) that had been issued due to isolated aircraft reports of severe to extreme turbulence at the 28,000-29,000 feet altitude range over northern Alabama and western Tennessee during the 15:00-16:00 UTC period. Note that there were also some transverse banding signatures evident in the patch of cloud that was located over northern Mississippi at that time — once again, the structure of these banded cloud features was much more obvious when viewed using the 1-km resolution NOAA-17 AVHRR IR imagery (below).

NOAA-17 + GOES-12 IR images

On that same day, a Lufthansa Airbus A340 passenger jet flying from Frankfurt, Germany to Atlanta, Georgia encountered severe turbulence around 19:15 UTC, at an altitude of 36,300 feet (while over the Atlantic Ocean, about 80 nautical miles southeast of Charleston, South Carolina):

CHS UUA /OV 80SE CHS/TM 1915/FL363/TP HA343/TB SEV FL350-FL363/RM CLIMB 130 FT ZJX=

The aircraft apparently lost about 1300 feet of altitude after encountering the severe turbulence. Ten persons aboard that flight received injuries (with a few requiring hospitalization), and the plane landed with priority clearance at Atlanta around 20:07 UTC. While the GOES-12 10.7 µm IR imagery in the vicinity of the incident (below) did not exhibit any of the transverse banding signatures that were seen farther inland, there were some rapidly developing thunderstorms in the vicinity (around 80 nautical miles southeast of Charleston, CHS) that likely contributed to the high-altitude turbulence. Note that the Lufthansa pilot report of turbulence did not show up in the database that was plotted by the McIDAS software shown below, but it was plotted by the AWIPS software (although in the wrong location, directly over Charleston, instead of 80 miles southeast of CHS).

GOES-12 IR images (Animated GIF)

Hurricane Irma moves through the Florida Keys

September 10th, 2017 |

GOES-16 ABI Infrared Imagery from the Clean Window (10.3 µm), 0122-1342 UTC (Click to animate)

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

GOES-16 Infrared Imagery, above, shows Hurricane Irma moving north on a wobbly path (displaying trochoidal motion) through the Florida Keys. The eye of the storm moved between Key West (surface data plot) and Marathon (surface data plot) around sunrise on 10 September. Also note the development of well-defined transverse banding well to the northwest and north of the storm center — a cloud signature often associated with high-altitude turbulence. (In addition, GOES-16 Infrared images during 09-10 September with plots of surface wind gusts in knots is available here). Irma is a storm increasingly affected by wind shear, as evidenced by the asymmetries in the upper level clouds. and as noted in the 1200 UTC 10 September 2017 Wind Shear analysis below (Source).

Wind shear (850-250 hPa) analysis, 1200 UTC 10 September, over GOES-13 Visible Imagery (0.64) (Click to enlarge)

 

Irma is being influenced by a mid-latitude system and is gradually starting the extended process of extratropical transition. The drying associated with the mid-latitude system is very apparent over the Gulf of Mexico in the animation of 6.95 µm (Mid-level Water Vapor) Infrared Imagery from GOES-16, below.

 

GOES-16 Mid-Level Water Vapor (6.95 µm) Infrared Imagery, 0230 -1445 UTC on 10 September 2017 (Click to animate)

MIMIC TPW, below (source), shows the convergence of residual Atlantic frontal moisture from the east (into northern Florida) and Hurricane Irma’s moisture fro the the Caribbean (into southern Florida) (Click to animate).

MIMIC Total Precipitable Water (Click to animate)

MIMIC Total Precipitable Water (Click to animate)

Suomi NPP overflew Irma at 0740 UTC on 10 September, and Day/Night Band Visible Imagery (0.70 µm) is toggled with Infrared Imagery (11.45 µm) over the eye, below.

Suomi NPP Imagery over the eye of Irma: Day/Night Band Visible (0.70 µm) and Infrared (11.45 µm), 0740 UTC on 10 September (Click to enlarge)

Suomi NPP Imagery: Day/Night Band Visible (0.70 µm) and Infrared (11.45 µm), 0740 UTC on 10 September (Click to enlarge)

During the subsequent daytime hours, VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images at 1855 UTC, below, showed the eye of Category 3 Hurricane Irma about 40 minutes prior to landfall at Marco Island, Florida.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images (Click to enlarge)

Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images (Click to enlarge)

 

A toggle through 6 different Suomi NPP Channels near the time of landfall (0.41 µm, 0.64 µm, 0.86 µm, 1.38 µm, 1.61 µm and 10.8 µm) is shown below.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Imagery at 1852 UTC on 10 September 2017: 0.41 µm, 0.64 µm, 0.86 µm, 1.38 µm, 1.61 µm and 10.8 µm) (Click to enlarge)