Severe turbulence over Hawai’i

January 12th, 2018 |

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

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

Numerous pilot reports of moderate to severe turbulence were received over the Hawai’i area on 12 January 2018 — and GOES-15 (GOES-West) Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images (above; also available as an MP4) showed the development of a quasi-stationary gravity wave train over the northwestern portion of the island chain which appeared to be associated with many of these pilot reports.

HNL UA /OV 2115N16010W/TM 2241/FL320/TP B767/TB CONT MOD TURB

HNL UUA /OV 2115N16048W/TM 2255/FL340/TP H/B747/TB MOD-SEV TURB

HNL UUA /OV BOARD/TM 2350/FL370/TP H/B772/TB SEVERE TURB

PHNL UUA /OV 2443N 15516W /TM 2358 /FL370 /TP B737 /TB SEV 370 /RM ZOA CWSU AWC-WEB

In spite of the large satellite viewing angle, these waves were also very evident on Himawari-8 Lower-level (7.3 µm), Mid-level (6.9 µm) and Upper-level (6.2 µm) Water Vapor images (below; also available as an MP4). The 3 Water Vapor bands on the Himawari AHI are nearly identical to the 3 Water Vapor bands on the GOES-R series ABI.

Himawari-8 Low-level (7.3 µm, left), Mid-level (6.9 µm, center) and 6.2 µm, right) Water Vapor images, with hourly pilot reports of turbulence [click to play animation]

Himawari-8 Low-level (7.3 µm, left), Mid-level (6.9 µm, center) and Upper-level (6.2 µm, right) Water Vapor images, with hourly pilot reports of turbulence [click to play animation]

A toggle between 1-km resolution Terra MODIS Water Vapor (6.7 µm), Infrared Window (11.0 µm) and 250-meter resolution true-color Red-Green-Blue RGB images at 2106 UTC on 12 January (below) showed that no high-altitude clouds were associated with the gravity wave features — thus, these aircraft encounters were examples of Clear Air Turbulence (CAT).

Terra MODIS Water Vapor (6.7 µm) and True-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS Water Vapor (6.7 µm), Infrared Window (11.0 µm) and true-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

A color-enhanced version of the Aqua MODIS Water Vapor (6.7 µm) image at 0014 UTC on 13 January is shown below (courtesy of Jordan Gerth, CIMSS).

An AWIPS screen capture (below, courtesy of Robert Bohlin, NWS Honolulu and Jordan Gerth, CIMSS) displays a High Pass filter product along with the 3 individual Himawari-8 Water Vapor band images at 0120 UTC on 13 January.

Upper-level Water Vapor (6.2 µm, upper right), Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm, lower left) and Lower-level Water Vapor (7.3 µm, lower right) images [click to enlarge]

Himawari-8 High Pass filter product (6.9 µm, upper left), Upper-level Water Vapor (6.2 µm, upper right), Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm, lower left) and Lower-level Water Vapor (7.3 µm, lower right) images [click to enlarge]

It bears mention that the rawinsonde data from Lihue, Hawai’i at 0000 UTC on 13 January (below) indicated significant wind shear (both speed and directional) within the 200-300 hPa layer (text listing) — the layer in which many of the turbulence reports were found.

Rawinsonde data from Lihue, Hawai'i at 00 UTC on 13 January [click to enlarge]

Rawinsonde data from Lihue, Hawai’i at 00 UTC on 13 January [click to enlarge]

The packet of gravity waves was directly over Lihue (red asterisk) at that time (below).

GOES-15 Water Vapor (6.5 µm) image at 0000 UTC on 13 January, with pilot reports of turbulence plotted. The red asterisk denotes the location of Lihue [click to enlarge]

GOES-15 Water Vapor (6.5 µm) image at 0000 UTC on 13 January, with pilot reports of turbulence plotted. The red asterisk denotes the location of Lihue [click to enlarge]