High cloud shadow over eastern Iowa

June 18th, 2018 |

It’s always good to get a question that lends itself well to the “What the heck is this?” blog category. The answer, as is often the case, relies on an examination of imagery from a variety of GOES-16 ABI bands.  To begin, note the darker feature seen on 1-minute Mesoscale Domain Sector GOES-16 “Blue” Visible (0.47 µm), “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and Near-Infrared “Vegetation” (0.86 µm) images (below), which was moving northeastward across eastern Iowa and passing just to the west of Waterloo (KALO) on the morning of 18 June 2018.

GOES-16 "Blue" Visible (0.47 µm), "Red" Visible (0.64 µm) and Near-Infrared "Snow/Ice" (1.61 µm) images

GOES-16 “Blue” Visible (0.47 µm, left), “Red” Visible (0.64 µm, center) and Near-Infrared “Vegetation” (0.86 µm, right) images [click to play animation | MP4]

To explore the initial hypothesis that this might be a shadow from a higher-altitude cloud feature, GOES-16 Near-Infrared “Cirrus” (1.37 µm), Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) and Upper-level Water Vapor (6.2 µm) images were examined (below), which did indeed reveal a small cloud element aloft that was drifting in the same direction as the darker feature seen above.

GOES-16 Near-Infrared

GOES-16 Near-Infrared “Cirrus” (1.37 µm, left), Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm, center) and Upper-level Water Vapor (6.2 µm, right) images [click to play animation | MP4]

Finally, a comparison of GOES-16 Near-Infrared “Cirrus” (1.37 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images (below) showed that this small (and likely thin) high-altitude cloud exhibited no signature in the Shortwave Infrared, but did exhibit a 10.3 µm brightness temperature as cold as -20ºC (cyan enhancement) at times.

GOES-16 Near-Infrared

GOES-16 Near-Infrared “Cirrus” (1.37 µm, left), Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, center) and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm, right) images [click to play animation | MP4]

12 UTC rawinsonde data from Davenport, Iowa (below) showed southwesterly winds and an air temperature just below -20ºC at an altitude of around 9.6 km.

12 UTC rawinsonde data from Davenport, Iowa [click to enlarge]

12 UTC rawinsonde data from Davenport, Iowa [click to enlarge]

Thanks to Andrew Ansorge (NWS DMX) and Rich Mamrosh (NWS GRB) for alerting us to this interesting feature!

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