Severe thunderstorms in the Southeast US

June 25th, 2018 |

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images, with SPC storm reports plotted in cyan [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 (GOES-East) “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images (above) showed the development of thunderstorms which produced small hail and widespread damaging winds (SPC storm reports) across the Southeast US on 25 June 2018.

A closer view of the storms was provided by GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images (below).

GOES-16

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

A toggle between an 1854 UTC Aqua MODIS Infrared Window (11.0 µm) image and the corresponding Total Precipitable Water derived product (below) showed that abundant moisture was in place across the region — as pointed out by a SPC Mesoscale Discussion, TPW values in excess of 2.0 inches (50 mm, violet enhancement) suggested that wet microbursts were likely with any thunderstorms that developed.

Aqua MODIS Infrared Window (11.0 µm) image and Total Precipitable Water derived product, with plots of SPC storm reports [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS Infrared Window (11.0 µm) image and Total Precipitable Water derived product, with plots of SPC storm reports [click to enlarge]



Waves over the Upper Midwest / Great Lakes

June 23rd, 2018 |

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images, with hourly plots of surface reports [click to play animation]

GOES-16 (GOES-East) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images (above) revealed a curious pattern of waves moving east-northeastward across a patch of mid-level clouds over central Lake Michigan during the morning hours on 23 June 2018.

In an effort to determine the vertical extent of these waves, a look at GOES-16 Low-level Water Vapor (7.3 µm), Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) and Upper-level Water Vapor (6.2 µm) images from the UW-Madison AOS site (below) showed a signature of waves propagating northeastward across the region during the 0802-2102 UTC time period.

GOES-16 Low-level Water Vapor (7.3 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 Low-level Water Vapor (7.3 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 Upper-level Water Vapor (6.2 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 Upper-level Water Vapor (6.2 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

There also were scattered pilot reports of light to moderate turbulence across the region as these waves were moving through, including one report of continuous Clear Air Turbulence at 36,000 feet over eastern Wisconsin.  Due to the subtle nature of these waves, their signature was not as obvious in the 8-bit McIDAS-X Water Vapor images shown below as they were in 16-bit imagery displayed above (or what would be displayed using AWIPS II).

GOES-16 Low-level (7.3 µm) images, with hourly pilot reports of turbulence [click to play animation]

GOES-16 Low-level Water Vapor (7.3 µm) images, with hourly pilot reports of turbulence [click to play animation]

GOES-16 Mid-level (6.9 µm) images, with hourly pilot reports of turbulence [click to play animation]

GOES-16 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images, with hourly pilot reports of turbulence [click to play animation]

GOES-16 Upper-level (6.2 µm) images, with hourly pilot reports of turbulence [click to play animation]

GOES-16 Upper-level Water Vapor (6.2 µm) images, with hourly pilot reports of turbulence [click to play animation]

The waves were passing over eastern Wisconsin around the time of ascent of the 12 UTC sounding balloon launched from Green Bay (and continuous turbulence was reported at 38,000 feet) — a plot of weighting functions for the three GOES-16 Water Vapor bands (below) showed peak pressures in the 424-328 hPa (22,800-28,885 feet) range, although significant contributions of energy were still evident from the 300 hPa pressure level (31,000 feet) or higher.

GOES-16 Water Vapor weighting functions, calculated using 12 UTC rawinsonde data from Green Bay, Wisconsin [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 Water Vapor weighting functions, calculated using 12 UTC rawinsonde data from Green Bay, Wisconsin [click to enlarge]

About an hour prior to the start of the 2-km resolution (at nadir or sub-satellite point) GOES-16 Water Vapor animations, 1-km resolution Aqua MODIS Water Vapor (6.7 µm) imagery at 0801 UTC (below) showed a long narrow wave packet (oriented northwest to southeast) from far western Wisconsin to central Illinois — and these waves were also apparent along the tops of mid-level clouds along the Iowa/Illinois border. Was this the leading edge of the waves seen farther northeast over the Great Lakes during the subsequent morning and afternoon hours?

Aqua MODIS Water Vapor (6.7 µm) and Infrared Window (11.0 µm) images, with plots of pilot reports [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS Water Vapor (6.7 µm) and Infrared Window (11.0 µm) images, with plots of pilot reports [click to enlarge]

All things considered, the lack of a clear forcing mechanism for these waves qualifies this case to be placed into the “What the heck is this” blog category until a coherent explanation can be put forward…

Summer solstice TROWAL over the Upper Midwest

June 21st, 2018 |

Aqua MODIS Water Vapor (6.7 µm) image, with overlays of surface pressure/fronts (cyan), RUC model 310K equivalent potential temperature (red) and 24-hour precipitation (green) [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS Water Vapor (6.7 µm) image, with overlays of surface pressure/fronts (cyan), RUC model 310K equivalent potential temperature (red) and 24-hour precipitation (green) [click to enlarge]

A nighttime Aqua MODIS Water Vapor (6.7 µm) image (above) showed the well-defined circulation of a mid-latitude cyclone that was centered over northwest Iowa at 0814 UTC (3:14 am local time) on 21 June 2018. Contours of RUC model equivalent potential temperature along the 310 K isentropic surface indicated that a Trough of Warm Air Aloft (TROWAL) existed just to the north of the occluded surface frontal boundary, curving cyclonically from northeastern Iowa across southern Minnesota into southeastern South Dakota and then southward across eastern Nebraska. 24-hour precipitation totals in excess of 2-3 inches had already been observed at that time.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images (below) displayed minimum cloud-top brightness temperature values of -50 to -55ºC (yellow to orange enhancement) near the TROWAL axis.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images, with plots of surface reports [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images, with plots of surface reports [click to enlarge]

An animation of GOES-16 (GOES-East) Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images (below) revealed that the storm system moved very slowly during the 00-20 UTC time period, while moderate to occasionally heavy rainfall was observed beneath the TROWAL air stream. 24-hour precipitation amounts reached 4-6 inches by 12 UTC in parts of southwest Minnesota, northwest Iowa and southeast South Dakota (FSD PNS) — and a number of river gauges were reporting minor to major flooding by the afternoon hours.

GOES-16 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images, with hourly plots of surface weather type [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images, with hourly plots of surface weather type [click to play MP4 animation]

It should be noted that TROWAL formation is rather unusual over this region during the summer months — but during the cold season a TROWAL can help to produce heavy snowfall (some examples are documented here, here and here).

Convection and Flooding over northern Wisconsin

June 17th, 2018 |

GOES-16 ABI Clean Window (10.3 µm) Infrared Imagery, 0200-0559 UTC on 17 June 2018 (Click to animate)

Persistent convection over northern Wisconsin, Minnesota and upper Michigan late Saturday (16 June)/early Sunday (17 June) caused significant flooding.  The animation above shows GOES-16 ABI “Clean Window” Infrared Imagery from 0200-0600 UTC on 17 June.  Note the persistence of the cold overshooting tops over western Bayfield County in northwestern Wisconsin! A longer Infrared animation (0110-1200 UTC) which includes hourly plots of precipitation type (yellow) and SPC storm reports of damaging winds (cyan) is available here. 7-day precipitation departures in some areas were 4 to 8 inches above normal for that period (or 600% of normal).

This link from Wisconsin Emergency Management shows aerial pictures of the flood damage. Of note is the break in US Highway 2 to the west of Ashland WI.

The heavy rains also affected runoff into Lake Superior. MODIS imagery, below, from the MODIS Today site (also available from RealEarth: Link), shows considerable offshore flow of sediment on 19 June (a similar image from 18 June is here, with a toggle between the 2 days here).

True-Color Imagery from Aqua MODIS on 19 June 2018 (Click to enlarge)

A Landsat-8 False-Color image, below, showed pockets of flooding (darker blue) adjacent to the Nemadji River in Superior WI on the morning of 19 June — water also cover a portion of US Highway 2/53. The Nemadji River had crested in Superior at a record 29.5 feet on the evening of 17 June (NWS Duluth summary).

Landsat-8 False-Color image (Click to enlarge)

False-Color image from Landsat-8 on 19 June 2018 (Click to enlarge)


============================ Added 22 June ==============================
 

NOAA’s Hydrometeorological Design Studies Center (Link) created an Exceedance Probability Analysis for this event at 6-hour, 24-hour and 72-hout time spans, available here (from this link). Probabilities suggest this was an exceedingly rare event.

The continuation of sediment flow into Lake Superior could be seen in a series of daily MODIS True-Color images here.