Strong storm off the Pacific Northwest coast

November 13th, 2017 |

* GOES-16 data posted on this page are preliminary, non-operational and are undergoing testing *

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Nighttime images  of Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) data (above) showed an occluded extratropical cyclone off the coast of the Pacific Northwest at 1050 UTC or 3:50 AM local time on 13 November 2017. This system was producing storm force winds offshore.

A GOES-16 Mesoscale Sector had been positioned over that region, providing imagery at 1-minute intervals — the structure and evolution of the storm could be seen using Lower-level (7.3 µm), Mid-level (6.9 µm) and Upper-level (6.2 µm) Water Vapor imagery (below).

GOES-16 Lower-level (7.3 µm, left), Mid-level (6.9 µm, center) and Upper-level (6.2 µm, right) Water Vapor images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 Lower-level (7.3 µm, left), Mid-level (6.9 µm, center) and Upper-level (6.2 µm, right) Water Vapor images [click to play MP4 animation]

A more detailed view was provided by GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images (below), with hourly wind gusts plotted in yellow. Peak wind gusts as high as 89 mph were reported within the Seattle and Portland County Warning Areas.

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm) images, with hourly wind gusts plotted in yellow [click yo play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm) images, with hourly wind gusts plotted in yellow [click yo play MP4 animation]

A comparison of Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images at 2038 UTC or 1:38 PM local time (below) showed a curved cloud band with embedded convective elements moving inland over western Washington and Vancouver Island. Note that the VIIRS instrument will also fly on the JPSS series of satellites.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Isolated cirrus cloud feature over Louisiana

November 10th, 2017 |

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm) images, with surface station identifiers plotted in yellow [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm) images, with surface station identifiers plotted in yellow [click to play MP4 animation]

* GOES-16 data posted on this page are preliminary, non-operational and are undergoing testing *

An isolated cloud feature moving east-southeastward across Louisiana on 10 November 2017 caught the attention of several people on Twitter — GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images (above) showed the motion of this cloud during the 1317-2052 UTC period.

In a 3-panel comparison of GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm), Near-Infrared “Cirrus” (1.37 µm) and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images (below), the strong signature (bright white) on the 1.37 µm imagery indicated that this feature was a cirrus cloud. The uncharacteristically-warm Infrared brightness temperatures exhibited by this feature were due to the fact that the thin cirrus allowed warmer thermal radiation from the surface to pass through the cloud and reach the satellite detectors.

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm, top), Near-Infrared

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm, top), Near-Infrared “Cirrus” (1.37 µm, middle) and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm, bottom) images [click to play MP4 animation]

Rawinsonde profiles from Lake Charles and Slidell, Louisiana at 12 UTC (below) showed the presence of a moist layer aloft (at an altitude around 9.5 km or 31,100 feet) — the cirrus cloud feature likely resided within this moist layer, which would explain why the cloud was slow to dissipate. Air temperatures within this moist layer were in the -40 to -50ºC range, and winds were from the west-northwest at speeds of 30-35 knots (which was consistent with the cloud motion seen on satellite imagery).

Rawinsonde data for Lake Charles and Slidell, Louisiana at 12 UTC on 10 November [click to enlarge]

Rawinsonde data for Lake Charles and Slidell, Louisiana at 12 UTC on 10 November [click to enlarge]

Even with the higher spatial resolution Infrared Window imagery (1 km, vs 2 km at the satellite sub-point for GOES-16) of Terra MODIS (below), the minimum Infrared brightness temperature of the cirrus cloud feature was still a relatively warm -31ºC.

Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm), Cirrus (1.375 µm) and Infrared Window (11.0 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm), Cirrus (1.375 µm) and Infrared Window (11.0 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Another interesting aspect of this small cirrus cloud is that it was casting a shadow to the north (due to the low November sun angle) — and the Terra MODIS Land Surface Temperature product (below) indicated that LST values were about 10 degrees F cooler within the shadow (low to middle 60s F) compared to adjacent sunlit ground (low to middle 70s F). That particular area was not normally cooler in terms of LST values (because of varying vegetation, soil type, a deep lake, etc.), since it did not show up as a cooler feature on the following day.

Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) image and Land Surface Temperature product [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) image and Land Surface Temperature product [click to enlarge]

Additional images and ground-based photos of the cirrus cloud feature can be found on this AccuWeather blog.

Aircraft “hole punch” clouds over Wisconsin

November 10th, 2017 |

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm, top) and Near-Infrared

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm, top) and Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm, bottom), with surface station identifiers plotted in yellow [click to play MP4 animation]

* GOES-16 data posted on this page are preliminary, non-operational and are undergoing testing *

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm) images (above) revealed a number of aircraft “hole punch” clouds over western Wisconsin on the morning of 10 November 2017.  These cloud features were caused by aircraft that were either ascending or descending through a layer of cloud composed of supercooled water droplets — cooling from wake turbulence (reference) and/or particles from the jet engine exhaust acting as ice condensation nuclei cause the small supercooled water droplets to turn into larger ice crystals (which then often fall from the cloud layer, creating “fall streak holes“). The darker gray appearance of the hole punch clouds on 1.61 µm images confirms that the features were composed of ice crystals (since ice is a strong absorber of radiation at that wavelength).

One isolated  hole punch cloud was also seen in 250-meter resolution Terra MODIS false-color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) imagery (source) over central Wisconsin around 16:52 UTC (below). In this type of RGB image (created using MODIS Bands 7/2/1), ice crystal clouds appear as shades of cyan, in contrast to supercooled water droplet clouds which appear as shades of white. With the low November sun angle, this cloud deck was casting a long shadow to the north — and sunlight filtering through the hole punch feature was brightening up a spot in the cloud shadow on the ground.

Terra MODIS false-color images [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS false-color image [click to enlarge]

Lake/river effect clouds in North Dakota

November 7th, 2017 |

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm, top) and Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm, bottom) images, with plots of hourly surface reports [click to play MP4 animation]

* GOES-16 data posted on this page are preliminary, non-operational and are undergoing testing *

As cold arctic air continued to move eastward across North Dakota on 07 November 2017, GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm) images (above) showed “lake effect” cloud plumes streaming east-northeastward from Lake Sakakawea (and also from Missouri River). The Snow/Ice images were the most useful for discriminating between supercooled water droplet cloud plumes (brighter shades of white) and the surrounding snow-covered land surfaces (darker shades of gray).

During the preceding nighttime hours, Suomi NPP VIIRS and Aqua MODIS Infrared Brightness Temperature Difference images (below) — the legacy “fog/stratus product” — revealed that the orientation of the Lake Sakakawea cloud plume changed as surface winds switched from northwesterly to westerly.

Infrared Brightness Temperature Difference images from Suomi NPP VIIRS (11.45 µm = 3.74 µm) and Aqua MODIS (11.0 µm - 3.7 µm) [click to enlarge]

Infrared Brightness Temperature Difference images from Suomi NPP VIIRS (11.45 µm = 3.74 µm) and Aqua MODIS (11.0 µm – 3.7 µm) [click to enlarge]

The Aqua MODIS Sea Surface Temperature product (below) indicated that the water in Lake Sakakawea was as warm as 47.9ºF (darker green enhancement) — significantly warmer than the surface air passing over it, which was generally in the 5 to 15ºF range.

Aqua MODIS Sea Surface Temperature product [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS Sea Surface Temperature product [click to enlarge]

The large cloud plume from Lake Sakakawea was also very evident on GOES-16 Day Snow-Fog Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images (below). Farther to the east, smaller and shorter-lived cloud plumes could also be seen originating from Devils Lake (along the Benson/Ramsey county line) and Stump Lake (in Nelson county).

GOES-16 Day Snow-Fog RGB images [click to animate]

GOES-16 Day Snow-Fog RGB images [click to animate]

Taking a closer look at the Lake Sakakawea area, the brighter signature of steam plumes rising from power plants located south and southeast of the lake (2 in Mercer county, and 1 in McLean county) could be spotted on the Day Snow-Fog RGB images (below).

GOES-16 Day Snow-Fog RGB images [click to animate]

GOES-16 Day Snow-Fog RGB images [click to animate]

Due to the low sun angle and the snow-covered land surface, morning shadows from these rising steam plumes could be seen on GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images (below).

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Red” Visible images [click to animate]

Special thanks to Carl Jones (NWS Grand Forks) for bringing this case to our attention, and supplying the AWIPS RGB and Visible images at the bottom of the blog post.