Southern US storm, and a Tehuano wind event

December 15th, 2018 |

GOES-16 Low-level Water Vapor (7.3 µm) images, 13-15 December [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 Low-level Water Vapor (7.3 µm) images, 13-15 December [click to play MP4 animation]

A large midlatitude cyclone moved from the southern High Plains to the Lower Mississippi Valley during the 13 December15 December 2018 period (surface analyses) — GOES-16 (GOES-East) Low-level Water Vapor (7.3 µm) images (above) showed the evolution of this system.

The corresponding GOES-16 Water Vapor images with plots of hourly surface wind gusts are shown below; peak wind gusts exceeding 50 knots occurred in parts of Colorado, New Mexico and Texas on 13 December.

GOES-16 Low-level Water Vapor (7.3 µm) images with hourly plots of surface wind gusts, 13-15 December [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 Low-level Water Vapor (7.3 µm) images with hourly plots of surface wind gusts in knots, 13-15 December [click to play MP4 animation]

This event was unusually windy in South Texas and the Rio Grande Valley:

Another notable aspect of this storm was a very localized area of heavy snowfall just south of Sweetwater, Texas:


The remnant patch of snow cover was evident in VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) and Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm) imagery on 14 and 15 December (below). The heaviest snowfall occurred over an isolated ridge along the eastern edge of the Edwards Plateau, where elevations of 2500-2600 feet were about 500 feet higher than the adjacent rolling plains. Since snow is a very effective absorber of energy at the 1.61 µm wavelength, it appeared dark on the Snow/Ice imagery.

Topography, Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) and Near-Infrared "Snow/Ice" (1.61 µm) images on 14 December [click to enlarge]

Topography plus Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) and Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm) images on 14 December [click to enlarge]

Topography plus NOAA-20 VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) and Near-Infrared "Snow/Ice" (1.61 µm) images on 15 December [click to enlarge]

Topography plus NOAA-20 VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) and Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm) images on 15 December [click to enlarge]

The residual snow cover on 14 December was also seen in Terra/Aqua MODIS True Color and False Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images, viewed using RealEarth (below). The snow appeared as shades of cyan in the False Color images.

Terra/Aqua MODIS True Color and False Color images on 14 December [click to enlarge]

Terra/Aqua MODIS True Color and False Color images on 14 December [click to enlarge]

A toggle between Terra MODIS True Color RGB images on the late morning of 14 and 15 December (below) demonstrated the amount of snow melt in 24 hours.

Terra MODIS True Color RGB images on 14 and 15 December [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS True Color RGB images on 14 and 15 December [click to enlarge]

The strong cold front associated with this storm moved rapidly southward across the western Gulf of Mexico on 14 December (surface analyses), crossing the terrain of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in southern Mexico and emerging into the Gulf of Tehuantepec as a gap wind (known as a Tehuano wind). A curved rope cloud marking the leading edge of the Tehuano winds was evident on GOES-17 and GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images (below).

* GOES-17 images shown here are preliminary and non-operational *

GOES-17 (left) and GOES-16 (right)

GOES-17 (left) and GOES-16 (right) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

A comparison of GOES-16 Visible imagery from 14 and 15 December (below) showed how far southwestward the gap winds spread out across the Pacific Ocean during those 2 days. Note that on 15 December there were ship reports with wind speeds of 50 knots, at 12 UTC and at 17 UTC.

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images with surface and ship reports, 14-15 December [click to play animation | MP4]

NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color RGB and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images on 14 and 15 December (below) also showed the progression of the Tehuano wind rope cloud — the hazy signature of dust-laden air within the offshore flow was also apparent on the daytime True Color images.

NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images on 14 and 15 December [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color RGB and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images on 14 and 15 December [click to enlarge]

Metop-A and Metop-B ASCAT surface scatterometer winds across the western Gulf of Mexico [click to enlarge]

Metop-A and Metop-B ASCAT surface scatterometer winds across the western Gulf of Mexico [click to enlarge]

On 14 December, a sequence of EUMETSAT Metop-A and Metop-B ASCAT surface scatterometer winds (source) showed the cold front moving southward across the western Gulf of Mexico (above), and also showed the northerly gap wind flow just beginning to emerge into the Gulf of Tehuantepec around 1607 UTC (below).

Metop-A and Metop-B ASCAT surface scatterometer winds across the southern Gulf of Mexico and the Gulf of Tehuantepec [click to enlarge]

Metop-A and Metop-B ASCAT surface scatterometer winds across the far southern Gulf of Mexico and the Gulf of Tehuantepec [click to enlarge]

The plume of dry air being transported southwestward across the Pacific Ocean by the gap winds was apparent on MIMIC Total Precipitable Water images (below). The majority of this dry air was within the surface-850 hPa layer (21 UTC comparison).

MIMIC Total Precipitable Water product (Total column, and Surface-850 hPa layer) [click to play animation]

MIMIC Total Precipitable Water product (Total column, and Surface-850 hPa layer) [click to play animation]

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