Blowing dust in Texas and Oklahoma

January 21st, 2018 |

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Moisture” Infrared brightness temperature difference (10.3-12.3 µm) images, with hourly surface reports plotted in cyan [click to play animation]

Strong winds in the wake of a cold frontal passage created large areas of blowing dust across the Panhandle Plains of northwestern Texas after 16 UTC on 21 January 2018. GOES-16 “Moisture” or “split-window difference” (10.3 µm12.3 µm) images (above) showed that the leading edge of this airborne dust moved over far southwestern Oklahoma after 20 UTC. (Note to AWIPS users: the default enhancement for this GOES-16 “Moisture” Channel Difference product was changed to “Grid/lowrange enhanced” to better highlight the dust with shades of yellow)

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and Near-Infrared “Cirrus” (1.37 µm) images (below) also displayed blowing dust signatures; the surface visibility was restricted to 2-3 miles at some locations, with Big Spring briefly reporting only 1/4 mile from 20-21 UTC. The dust signature was apparent on the Cirrus imagery because this spectral band can be used to detect any airborne particles that are effective scatterers of light (such as cirrus ice crystals, volcanic ash, dust/sand or haze).

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images, with hourly reports of surface weather plotted in red and surface visibility (miles) plotted in red [click to play animation]

GOES-16 Near-Infrared

GOES-16 Near-Infrared “Cirrus” (1.37 µm) images, with hourly reports of surface weather plotted in red and surface visibility (miles) plotted in red [click to play animation]

A Cirrus band is also available with the MODIS instrument on the Terra and Aqua satellites (as well as the VIIRS instrument on Suomi NPP and NOAA-20) — a comparison of Visible (0.65 µm), Cirrus (1.37 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.7 µm) and Infrared Window (11.0 µm) images from Terra and Aqua (below) highlighted the differing appearance of the blowing dust features as sensed by each of those spectral bands. The airborne dust exhibited a darker signature in the Shortwave Infrared images since the small dust particles were efficient reflectors of incoming solar radiation, thus appearing warmer at 3.7 µm.

Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm), Cirrus (1.37 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.7 µm) and Infrared Window (11.0 µm) images, with surface reports plotted in cyan [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm), Cirrus (1.37 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.7 µm) and Infrared Window (11.0 µm) images, with surface reports plotted in cyan [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS Visible (0.65 µm), Cirrus (1.37 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.7 µm) and Infrared Window (11.0 µm) images, with surface reports plotted in cyan [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS Visible (0.65 µm), Cirrus (1.37 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.7 µm) and Infrared Window (11.0 µm) images, with surface reports plotted in cyan [click to enlarge]

Pilot reports within 20-45 minutes after the Terra overpass time (below) revealed Moderate to Severe turbulence at an elevation of 8000 feet, just southeast of the most dense dust plume feature (highlighted by the cooler, lighter gray infrared brightness temperatures) — this was likely due to strong wind shear in the vicinity of the rapidly-advancing cold front. Farther to the southwest, another pilot report indicated that the top of the blowing dust was at 7000 feet, with a flight-level visibility of 3 miles at 10,000 feet.

Terra MODIS Infrared Window (11.0 µm) image, with a pilot report of turbulence highlighted in red [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS Infrared Window (11.0 µm) image, with a pilot report of turbulence highlighted in red [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS Infrared Window (11.0 µm) image, with a pilot report of dust layer top and flight level visibility highlighted in red [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS Infrared Window (11.0 µm) image, with a pilot report of dust layer top and flight level visibility highlighted in red [click to enlarge]

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