Blowing dust in southern Nevada

April 9th, 2019 |

GOES-17 Split Window (10.3-12.3 µm), Split Cloud Top Phase (11.2-8.4 µm) and

GOES-17 Split Window (10.3-12.3 µm), Split Cloud Top Phase (11.2-8.4 µm) and “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 (GOES-West) Split Window (10.3-12.3 µm), Split Cloud Top Phase (11.2-8.4 µm) and “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images (above) displayed a plume of blowing dust — whose source region was a dry lake bed along the California-Nevada border — which developed in advance of an approaching cold front (surface analyses) and moved northeastward across far southern Nevada on 09 April 2019. Wind gusts of 50-65 mph were reported across the region.

This dust plume was also apparent over far southern Nevada in GOES-17 True Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images from the AOS site (below).

GOES-17 True Color RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 True Color RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

There are 5 airports located in the Las Vegas Valley, and GOES-17 images showed that the dust plume passed directly over Henderson (KHND) — time series plots of surface data from these sites (below) indicated that visibility was reduced to 3 miles at Henderson, with visibilities dropping to 8-9 miles at McCarran International Airport (KLAS) and Nellis Air Force Base (KLSV). The visibility was not impacted at the North Las Vegas Airport (KVGT), with its more northwest location being farther from the dust plume.

Time series plot of surface data at Henderson [click to enlarge]

Time series plot of surface data at Henderson [click to enlarge]

Time series plot of surface data at McCarran International Airport [click to enlarge]

Time series plot of surface data at McCarran International Airport [click to enlarge]

Time series plot of surface data at Nellis Air Force Base [click to enlarge]

Time series plot of surface data at Nellis Air Force Base [click to enlarge]

A notable exception was the Boulder City Municipal Airport (KBVU), which was downwind of a smaller local point source of blowing dust (Mursha Reservoir, another dry lake bed to the southwest) — the visibility at KBVU was restricted to 2 miles at times. With the 2-km spatial resolution (at satellite nadir) of the GOES-17 Infrared spectral bands, there was not a signature of this smaller-scale Boulder City dust plume in the 10.3-12.3 µm and 11.2-8.4 µm Brightness Temperature Difference products — however, this hazy plume was evident in the 0.5-km resolution (at satellite nadir) Visible imagery.

Time series plot of surface data at Boulder City Municipal Airport [click to enlarge]

Time series plot of surface data at Boulder City Municipal Airport [click to enlarge]

A comparison of 1-km resolution NOAA-19 AVHRR Visible (0.63 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.8 µm) and Split Window (10.8-12.0 µm) images (below) provided a detailed view of the primary dust plume — and also exhibited a subtle signature of the smaller plume that reduced visibility at Boulder City KBVU. The small dust aerosols act as efficient reflectors of incoming solar radiation, therefore appearing warmer (darker) on the Shortwave Infrared image.

NOAA-19 AVHRR Visible (0.63 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.8 µm) and Split Window (10.8-12.0 µm) images, with plots of 23 UTC surface reports [click to enlarge]

NOAA-19 AVHRR Visible (0.63 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.8 µm) and Split Window (10.8-12.0 µm) images, with plots of 23 UTC surface reports [click to enlarge]

The GOES-17 and NOAA-19 images also showed that the larger dust plume moved across a section of Interstate 15 between Sloan and Jean; traffic cameras showed significant reductions in visibility along I-15 near Primm (along the California/Nevada border).

Leave a Reply