Plume of blowing sand from the White Sands National Monument in New Mexico

February 28th, 2012 |
GOES-15 (left) and GOES-13 (right) 0.63 µm visible channel images (click image to play animation)

GOES-15 (left) and GOES-13 (right) 0.63 µm visible channel images (click image to play animation)

Strong winds of 50-60 mph (with a peak gust of 74 mph at Fort Stanton, New Mexico) in the wake of a cold frontal passage caused widespread areas of blowing dust from New Mexico to Kansas on 28 February 2012. One notable feture that was apparent on both GOES-15 (GOES-West) and GOES-13 (GOES-East) 0.63 µm visible channel images (above; click image to play animation) was a long plume of blowing sand originating from the White Sands National Monument located in southern New Mexico. Note how the plumes of blowing dust/sand became easier to identify later in the day on the GOES-13 imagery, as the forward scattering angle increased during the afternoon hours.

A 250-meter resolution Aqua MODIS true color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) image from the SSEC MODIS Today site (below; viewed using Google Earth) revealed how the gypsum sand from White Sands appeared white in color (full-resolution view), in contrast to the light brown colored blowing dust that was seen across the Texas and Oklahoma panhandle regions into southwestern Kansas.

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

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

The interaction of the strong winds with the terrain could be seen in a comparison of 1-km resolution MODIS 6.7 µm and 4-km resolution GOES-13 6.5 µm water vapor channel images (below), which revealed a complex pattern of mountain waves across the region.

MODIS 6.7 µm and GOES-13 6.5 µm water vapor channel images

MODIS 6.7 µm and GOES-13 6.5 µm water vapor channel images

The strong surface winds in tandem with very dry air were creating conditions favorable for wildfire activity — one such fire could be seen in the southern Texas panhandle region in a comparison of 1-km resolution MODIS 3.7 µm and GOES-13 3.9 µm shortwave IR images (below).

MODIS 3.7 µm and GOES-13 3.9 µm shortwave IR images

MODIS 3.7 µm and GOES-13 3.9 µm shortwave IR images

Additional information and imagery from this event can be found on the Wide World of SPoRT blog.

Leave a Reply