Water Vapor Animations for May 2014 and May 2015

June 1st, 2015 |
GOES-15 Imager 6.5 µm water vapor infrared channel images (click to play animation)

GOES-15 Imager 6.5 µm water vapor infrared channel images from May 2015 (click to play animation)

Historically heavy rains fell over the southern Plains in May of 2015, with numerous stations setting record monthly rainfall marks. For example, Oklahoma City reported 19.48″ of rain in May 2015; the previous record wet month was 14.66″, set in June 1989 (14.52″ of rain fell in May 2013). The three-hourly water vapor imagery, above (Click here for mp4 file; the animated gif above exceeds 90 M), from GOES-13 shows repeated thunderstorm development over western OK and western Texas that subsequently moved east. Persistent southwesterly flow is also apparent. In comparison, three-hourly water vapor imagery from GOES-13 for May 2014, below (Click here for mp4 file), shows less frequent convection and more northwesterly flow. Widespread convection is much less frequent over the Plains in May 2014 (a month that saw 4.44″ of rain fall in Oklahoma City).

GOES-15 Imager 6.5 µm water vapor infrared channel images (click to play animation)

GOES-15 Imager 6.5 µm water vapor infrared channel images from May 2014 (click to play animation)

The mean 6.5 channel GOES-13 Brightness Temperature for May 2015 was more than 2 degrees cooler than in May 2014 (237.2 K in 2015 vs. 239.6 K in 2014). It should not be surprising that the top of the moist layer in 2015 was higher (cooler) than in 2014.

GOES-14 SRSO-R imagery: “mystery feature” over eastern Tennessee

May 21st, 2015 |


 

GOES-14 remained in Super Rapid Scan Operations for GOES-R (SRSO-R) demonstration mode on 21 May 2015, providing 1-minute images for much of the eastern US (see this blog post) — and another interesting feature was seen over eastern Tennessee that was rather perplexing. Since this easily qualified for the “What the heck is this?” blog category, we thought it might be fun to have a contest of sorts and invite readers to submit their wild guesses and/or educated explanations. We will post more imagery later in the day on 22 May as to our explanation — but in the meantime, leave a comment on the blog (comments are moderated, so they will not appear until approved), or send your thoughts to our Twitter account.

—– 22 May Update —–

Thanks to all who submitted their suggestions here and on Twitter of an explanation of the “What the heck is this” feature; Here is our best guess:

GOES-13 (GOES-East) visible, 3.9 µm shortwave IR, 6.5 µm, and 10.7 µm IR images [click to play animation]

GOES-13 (GOES-East) visible, 3.9 µm shortwave IR, 6.5 µm, and 10.7 µm IR images [click to play animation]

The first step in trying to understand what might be causing this interesting feature was to examine 4-panel images showing imagery from other GOES channels (or spectral bands): in this case, the 3.9 µm “shortwave IR” channel, the 6.5 µm “water vapor” channel, and the 10.7 µm “IR window channel” (above; click image to play animation). The 3.9 µm IR brightness temperatures of cloud features were in the +20 to +25º range, while the 10.7 µm IR brightness temperatures were in the +3 to +5º C range — the significantly warmer shortwave IR temperatures indicates that the clouds were comprised of liquid or supercooled cloud droplets. Otherwise, no significant clues were seen on the IR (or the water vapor) images.

However, the METAR surface reports offer an important clue: a rain shower moved from southwest to northeast through the region during the preceding overnight hours with the passage of a weak low pressure system (surface analyses), with Knoxville (station identifier KTYS) receiving 0.23″ and Oak Ridge (KOQT) receiving 0.10″ of rainfall (radar-estimated 24-hour precipitation). Therefore, one plausible explanation of the feature seen on visible imagery is that it was a shallow pool of stable, rain-cooled air near the surface that was spreading out and flowing downslope (westward) into the Great Valley of East Tennessee during the morning and early afternoon hours.

While the outer edges of this rain-cooled stable air feature remained generally cloud-free, the inner core exhibited a good deal of cloud development (including what appeared to be a more dense northwest-to-southeast oriented cloud band through the middle). An overlay of hourly RTMA surface winds (below; click image to play animation) indicated that there was convergence within the feature (to the lee of higher terrain within the Cumberland Plateau), which along with daytime heating of the moist soil would have helped to promote such shallow cloud development.

GOES-13 0.63 µm visible channel images, with RTMA surface winds [click to play animation]

GOES-13 0.63 µm visible channel images, with RTMA surface winds [click to play animation]

For clouds within expanding the rain-cooled boundary at 1534 UTC, the CLAVR-x POES AVHRR Cloud Type was liquid, with Cloud Top Height values of 1-3 km and Cloud Top Temperature values of +2 to +10º C (below).

CLAVR-x POES AVHRR Cloud Type, Cloud Top Height, and Cloud Top Temperature products

CLAVR-x POES AVHRR Cloud Type, Cloud Top Height, and Cloud Top Temperature products

GOES-14 SRSO Imagery over Texas

May 20th, 2015 |
GOES-14 0.62 µm visible imagery; Andrews County is highlighted [click to play animation]

GOES-14 0.62 µm visible imagery; Andrews County is highlighted [click to play animation]

GOES-14, in SRSO-R mode, animation, above (YouTube video), captured the development of an isolated cell over northeastern Andrews County in west Texas. Intersecting boundaries helped force the isolated convection, above, that was strong enough to produce a signal in the NOAA/CIMSS ProbSevere product, with ProbSevere peaking at around 15%.

NOAA/CIMSS ProbSevere output, 1400 UTC on 20 May 2015 [click to enlarge

NOAA/CIMSS ProbSevere output, 1400 UTC on 20 May 2015 [click to enlarge]

GOES-14 in SRSO-R Scanning

May 18th, 2015 |

GOES-14 0.62 µm visible imagery [click to play animation]

GOES-14 0.62 µm visible imagery [click to play animation]

GOES-14 is producing imagery at 1-minute intervals as part of Super-Rapid Scan Operations for GOES-R (SRSO-R). Sectors that are scanned change each day and are determined by likely weather events. The animation above, in the southwest corner of the Monday May 18 sector shows strong convection over northern Louisiana. (A similar animation in mp4 format is available here (YouTube)) A benefit of 1-minute imagery is that it can capture the entire lifecycle of overshooting tops, cloud-top features that typically form and decay in less than 10 minutes.

GOES-R is scheduled to launch in March 2016. It will have the capability to provide routine 1-minute imagery over mesoscale-sized domains such as those sampled in the next three weeks by GOES-14. Real-time GOES-14 SRSO imagery is available through the SSEC RealEarth web map server and the GOES-14 SRSOR Imagery site.

Rapid Scan Operations allow the eye to distinguish between upper- and lower-level clouds that typically move at different speeds or in different directions. In the animation below (similar mp4 available here), high clouds over western Pennsylvania are moving over dissipating river fog in the central part of the state. Upper level clouds over southern New York are moving southward; low clouds are moving westward behind a back-door cold front: winds at White Plains, Newark, Trenton (and other stations) have all switched to easterly.

GOES-14 0.62 µm visible imagery [click to play animation]

GOES-14 0.62 µm visible imagery [click to play animation]

Another feature of interest was a thin layer of lake fog that was streaming northward across Lake Michigan during the morning hours, as seen in the animation below (also available as an mp4 movie file). Note the appearance of an undular bore propagating southeastward through the northern portion of the fog at the end of the animation; this may have been caused by an internal reflection of the strong southerly flow impinging upon the rugged southern coastline of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. According to buoy data and the Terra MODIS Sea Surface Temperature product, Lake Michigan waters were still in the upper 30s to low 40s F — it was the pre-cold-frontal southerly flow of much warmer air with dew point values in the 50s and 60s F that led to the formation of the lake fog.

GOES-14 0.62 um visible channel images (click to play animation)

GOES-14 0.62 um visible channel images [click to play animation]

Rounds of deep convection persisted over parts of the Gulf Coast states during the day, which can be seen in the sunrise-to-sunset animation of GOES-14 visible images below (also available as an MP4 movie file). In Louisiana, some of these storms produced heavy rainfall and flash flooding, with a few water rescues necessary.

GOES-14 0.62 µm visible channel images (click to play YouTube animation)

GOES-14 0.62 µm visible channel images (click to play YouTube animation)