Blowing dust in New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma

January 22nd, 2012 |
GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel images (click image to play animation)

GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel images (click image to play animation)

A large outbreak of blowing dust developed in the wake of a cold frontal passage across parts of New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma on 22 January 2012. At Lubbock, Texas winds gusted to 60 mph, and surface visibility was reduced to 0.5 mile. The strongest wind gust was 77 mph, farther to the north in the Texas panhandle region (NWS Lubbock summary). Early in the day, the consolidation of numerous smaller blowing dust plumes into a single large blowing dust “cloud” could be seen on 1-km resolution GOES-15 (GOES-West) 0.63 µm visible channel images (above; click image to play animation).

Later in the day, due to a more favorable forward scattering angle, the areal extent of the airborne blowing dust could be better seen on 1-km resolution 0.63 µm visible channel images from the GOES-13 (GOES-East) satellite (below; click image to play animation). The leading edge of the primary large dust plume began to move northeastward over Oklahoma, while a number of smaller dust plumes could be seen moving southeastward across the Oklahoma and Texas panhandle regions behind a secondary cold front. Note that the GOES-13 satellite had been placed into Rapid Scan Operations (RSO) mode, providing images as frequently as every 5-10 minutes.

GOES-13 0.63 µm visible channel images (click image to play animation)

GOES-13 0.63 µm visible channel images (click image to play animation)

A 250-meter resolution MODIS true color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) image from the SSEC MODIS Today site (below, viewed using Google Earth) displayed even greater detail in the structure of the blowig dust plume at 20:02 UTC.

Aqua MODIS true color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) image (displayed using Google Earth)

Aqua MODIS true color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) image (displayed using Google Earth)

There was also a bit of smoke mixed in with the blowing dust, due to a few small wildfires that were burning across the region. Three small wildfire “hot spots” (dark black to yellow pixels) could be seen on an AWIPS image of 1-km resolution MODIS 3.7 µm shortwave IR data at 20:00 UTC (below).

MODIS 3.7 µm shortwave IR image

MODIS 3.7 µm shortwave IR image

Over southern Oklahoma at 21:23 UTC a pilot reported that at an altitude of 9000 feet the flight level visibility was zero due to blowing dust (below).

GOES-13 0.63 µm visible channel image + Aircraft pilot report

GOES-13 0.63 µm visible channel image + Aircraft pilot report

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