Canadian wildfire smoke over the Upper Midwest

May 30th, 2019 |

GOES-16 True Color RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 True Color RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 (GOES-East) True Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images from the AOS site (above) revealed the arrival of a dense high-altitude smoke plume from the north, which cast a late-day shadow onto the top of a more aged layer of lower-altitude smoke over the Upper Midwest on 30 May 2019. These smoke layers were being transported from large wildfires that were burning across northern Alberta.

Images from the west-facing AOSS rooftop camera (below) showed the slow obscuration of the setting sun as the smoke layers aloft became increasingly thick.

Images from the west-facing AOSS rooftop camera [click to play animation | MP4]

Images from the west-facing AOSS rooftop camera [click to play animation | MP4]

The GOES-16 Smoke Detection product (below) flagged most of the lower-altitude smoke with its “High Confidence” category.

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and Smoke Detection product [click to play animation | MP4]

The higher-altitude smoke plume that moved southward contained some cirrus debris from the pyrocumulonimbus cloud that formed at the wildfire source in northern Alberta, so it was not classified as smoke by the Smoke Detection product — the plume itself did exhibit 10.3 µm infrared brightness temperatures as cold as -57ºC as it approached the Canada/US border (below).

GOES-16 "Clean" Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

Some of the lower-altitude smoke exhibited GOES-16 Aerosol Optical Depth values as high as 1.0 to 2.0 (below).

GOES-16 Aerosol Optical Depth product [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Aerosol Optical Depth product [click to play animation | MP4]

Severe thunderstorms in Texas and Oklahoma

May 20th, 2019 |

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images, with SPC Storm Reports plotted in red [click to play MP4 animation]

1-minute Mesoscale Domain Sector GOES-16 (GOES-East) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images (above) showed the development of widespread thunderstorms that produced tornadoes, large hail (up to 5.5 inches in diameter in Texas) and damaging winds (as high as 94 mph in Oklahoma) (SPC storm reports) across parts of Texas and Oklahoma on 20 May 2019.

The corresponding GOES-16 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.35 µm) images (below) indicated that cloud-top infrared brightness temperatures were frequently as cold as -70 to -80ºC (black to white to violet enhancement) with the more vigorous thunderstorms.

GOES-16 "Clean" Infrared Window (10.35 µm) images, with SPC Storm Reports plotted in cyan [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.35 µm) images, with SPC Storm Reports plotted in cyan [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 "Red" Visible (0.64 µm) images, with SPC Storm Reports plotted in red [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images, with SPC Storm Reports plotted in red [click to play MP4 animation]

Zoomed-in versions of the Visible images (above) and Infrared images (below) are centered at Childress, Texas — which provide a better view of the storms which produced the 5.5-inch hail (Visible | Infrared) at Wellington, Texas and the large tornado near Magnum, Oklahoma (Visible | Infrared | YouTube video).

GOES-16 "Clean" Infrared Window (10.35 µm) images, with SPC Storm Reports plotted in cyan [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.35 µm) images, with SPC Storm Reports plotted in cyan [click to play MP4 animation]

One interesting aspect of this line of deep convection: it was effectively acting as an obstacle to the upstream southwesterly flow, resulting in the formation of a quasi-stationary band of gravity waves along its western edge — these waves were very evident in GOES-16 Low-level (7.3 µm), Mid-level (6.9 µm) and Upper-level (6.2 µm) Water Vapor images (below).

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

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

GOES-16 Split Window Difference (10.3-12.3 µm) images (below) displayed the yellow signature of blowing dust in the vicinity of a cold front that was moving eastward across southeastern New Mexico and southwestern Texas. Blowing dust restricted surface visibility to 3 miles or less at El Paso in Texas and at Alamagordo and Artesia in New Mexico.

GOES-16 Split Window Difference (10.3-12.3 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Split Window Difference (10.3-12.3 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

During the subsequent overnight hours, these thunderstorms produced heavy rainfall from northern Oklahoma into southern Kansas, causing flash flooding — and flooding from rising rivers across that region on the following day were captured by the Suomi NPP VIIRS Flood Detection Product (below).

Suomi NPP VIIRS True Color and False Color RGB images, along with the Flood Detection Product [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS True Color and False Color RGB images, along with the Flood Detection Product [click to enlarge]

The river flooding in northern/northwestern Oklahoma was also evident in a before/after comparison of Terra MODIS False Color RGB images from 15 May and 21 May (below). Water appears as darker shades of blue in the False Color images.

Terra MODIS False Color RGB images over northern Oklahoma on 15 May and 21 May [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS False Color RGB images over northern Oklahoma on 15 May and 21 May [click to enlarge]

Asian dust entrained into a midlatitude cyclone

May 12th, 2019 |

True Color RGB images from MODIS (Terra) and VIIRS (NOAA-20 and Suomi NPP) [click to enlarge]

True Color RGB images from MODIS (Terra) and VIIRS (NOAA-20 and Suomi NPP) [click to enlarge]

True Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images from the MODIS instrument (on the Terra satellite) and the VIIRS instrument (on the NOAA-20 and Suomii NPP satellites) as viewed using RealEarth (above) revealed a tan-colored swirl of dust that had been lofted from the surface and entrained into the circulation of a midlatitude cyclone along the Mongolia/China border on 12 May 2019.

A sequence of MODIS/VIIRS True Color RGB images from Terra and Suomi NPP on 10, 11 and 12 May (below) showed the initial signature of surface-based blowing dust appearing in the Kumul and Jiuquan areas of northwestern China on 11 May, before it became wrapped into the circulation of the aforementioned midlatitude cyclone on 12 May.

True Color RGB images from MODIS (Terra) and VIIRS (Suomi NPP) [click to enlarge]

True Color RGB images from MODIS (Terra) and VIIRS (Suomi NPP) [click to enlarge]

Surface analyses at 3-hour intervals (source), from 12 UTC on 11 May to 00 UTC on 13 May (below) illustrated the strong pressure gradient between a large dome of high pressure over Mongolia and a developing midlatitude cyclone along the Mongolia/China border on 11 May — strong surface winds generated by this pressure gradient initially caused the blowing dust to begin in northwestern China.

Surface analyses at 3-hour intervals from 12 UTC on 11 May to 00 UTC on 13 May [click to enlarge]

Surface analyses at 3-hour intervals from 12 UTC on 11 May to 00 UTC on 13 May [click to enlarge]

JMA Himawari-8 Split Window Difference (10.4-12.3 µm) images (below) showed the signature of dust (yellow to cyan enhancement) moving eastward from the desert source region in northwestern China and becoming wrapped into the circulation of the midlatitude cyclone along the Mongolia/China border.

Himawari-8 Split Window Difference (10.4-12.3 µm) iimages [click to play animation |MP4]

Himawari-8 Split Window Difference (10.4-12.3 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

Smoke in the Gulf of Mexico

April 18th, 2019 |

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images, with surface fronts plotted in cyan [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 (GOES-East) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images (above) showed some clearing of the dense pall of smoke across the far western Gulf of Mexico in the wake of a cold front that was moving southward/southeastward off the Texas coast on 18 April 2019. The parallel wave clouds of an undular bore were also evident ahead of the cold front from 13-16 UTC — the bore was also causing horizontal convective roll perturbations in the smoke about 20-40 miles ahead of the wave clouds (1506 UTC image).

The hazy signature of smoke was better defined in GOES-16 True Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images from the AOS site (below). This smoke was the result of widespread annual Springtime agricultural burning across southern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize and Honduras. Toward the end of the day, additional small plumes of smoke and blowing dust could  be seen moving back across the Gulf of Mexico into the “cleaner” air behind the cold front.

GOES-16 True Color RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 True Color RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

Thermal anomalies or “hot spots” (yellow to red pixels) associated with the larger fires in Mexico, Guatemala, Belize and Honduras could be seen in GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (below).

GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

A map of fires detected by Suomi NPP VIIRS on the previous day is shown below, as viewed using RealEarth.

Fires detected by Suomi NPP VIIRS on 17 April [click to enlarge]

Fires detected by Suomi NPP VIIRS on 17 April [click to enlarge]