Chemical plant fire near Dallas, Texas

October 3rd, 2011 |
GOES-11, GOES-15, and GOES-13 visible channel images

GOES-11, GOES-15, and GOES-13 visible channel images

A McIDAS image comparison of GOES-11 (GOES-West) 0.65 µm visible channel, GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel, and GOES-13 (GOES-East) 0.63 µm visible channel data (above) showed the dark smoke plume from a fire burning at a chemical plant in Waxahachie, Texas (about 30 miles south of Dallas) on 03 October 2011. (Note: GOES-15 is scheduled to replace GOES-11 as the operational GOES-West satellite in December 2011).

A similar comparison of the GOES-11, GOES-15, and GOES-13 3.9 µm shortwave IR channels (below) indicated that no obvious fire “hot spot” was evident before the appearance of the dark smoke plume — the brighter yellow colors highlight pixels which have an IR brightness temperature hotter than 45º C. This 45º C threshold was exceeded at 16:30 UTC on the GOES-15 and GOES-13 images, and at 16:45 on the GOES-11 images; on the visible channel imagery, the dark smoke plume was seen 30 minutes earlier at 16:00 UTC on all 3 satellites.

GOES-11, GOES-15, and GOES-13 shortwave IR images

GOES-11, GOES-15, and GOES-13 shortwave IR images

A 17:32 UTC Terra MODIS Red/Green/Blue (RGB) true color image from the SSEC MODIS Today site (below, viewed using Google Earth) confirmed the very dark nature of the smoke plume from this particular fire, which was causing some evacuations (news media story).

MODIS true color RGB image (viewed using Google Earth)

MODIS true color RGB image (viewed using Google Earth)

Hurricane Ophelia over the central Atlantic

September 30th, 2011 |
GOES-13 Visible images (click image to play animation)

GOES-13 Visible images (click image to play animation)

Hurricane Ophelia, the fourth hurricane of the north Atlantic tropical season, is pictured above near peak intensity as it moves over the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean, northeast of Hispaniola (which island is visible in the southwest corner of the image loop). The hurricane displays a circular central dense overcast region around a eye in which one might infer the presence of small-scale vortices. Several factors argue for weakening with Ophelia. Note in the animation the motion of the cirrus clouds entering the frame from the west. These high-level winds suggest an increase the shear over Ophelia, and in fact the convective distribution around the storm shows an asymmetry with more convection east of the center. Further, Ophelia’s projected track takes it across a region of ocean that is cooler following the passage of major Hurricane Katia earlier in September. This cool wake limits the energy available to subsequent storms like Ophelia. This loop toggles between images retrieved from the CIMSS Tropical Weather website, showing an enhanced infrared image and a mapping of the sea surface temperatures over the Atlantic in which the wake of Katia is plain. Observations from AVHRR confirm the existence of the cooler SSTs ahead of Ophelia.

The vigor of the convection within a hurricane can be measured by the number of overshooting tops within the circulation. This plot, for example, shows a weakening in Katia as the number of overshooting tops dropped on 2 September. Overshooting tops can be inferred by differencing the 10.7 µm and 6.5 µm channels on the GOES imager. This animation shows only occasional evidence of overshooting tops. Visible imagery from GOES-15 shows evidence of a few overshoots possibly north of the center, and in a spiral band east of the center. A very oblique view from GOES-11 suggests a similar distribution to the overshoots, but also shows a mostly smooth cirrus canopy above the hurricane. The number of overshoots should decrease as Ophelia moves over the cooler waters to its north.

Added: This POES AVHRR Infrared image, showing half of the storm, shows cloud tops as cold as -77 C, but little in the way of overshooting tops. A comparison of this same POES AVHRR IR image (viewed using McIDAS)  with the corresponding POES AVHRR visible image (below) nicely shows the curved convective band that was wrapping around they eye of Hurricane Ophelia.

POES AVHRR 10.8 µm IR and 0.63 µm visible channel images

POES AVHRR 10.8 µm IR and 0.63 µm visible channel images

Hurricane Hilary

September 23rd, 2011 |
GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel images (click image to play animation)

GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel images (click image to play animation)

GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel images  (above; click image to play animation) showed the rather small but very distinct eye of Category 4 Hurricane Hilary in the Eastern North Pacific Ocean on 23 September 2011. GOES-15 (the newest in the series of GOES N/O/P satellites, launched and tested in 2010) is scheduled to replace GOES-11 as the operational GOES-West satellite in December 2011.

During this same time period on 23 September, the GOES-11 satellite was placed into Super Rapid Scan Operations (SRSO) mode, providing bursts of data at 1-minute intervals. Magnified versions of GOES-11 0.65 µm visible channel images (below; click image to play animation; also available as a QuickTime movie) revealed that at times there were multiple mesovortices within the eye of Hurricane Hilary. Larger-scale (zoomed-out) views of GOES-11 SRSO Water Vapor, Visible, and IR channel images are available from CIRA/RAMMB.

GOES-11 0.65 µm visible channel SRSO images (click image to play animation)

GOES-11 0.65 µm visible channel SRSO images (click image to play animation)

GOES-15: improved spatial resolution water vapor channel

September 14th, 2011 |

 

GOES-11 6.7 µm (left) and GOES-15 6.5 µm (right) water vapor channel images (click image to play animation)

GOES-11 6.7 µm (left) and GOES-15 6.5 µm (right) water vapor channel images (click image to play animation)

McIDAS images of 8-km resolution GOES-11 6.7 µm and 4-km resolution GOES-15 6.5 µm water vapor channel data (above) demonstrated the advantage of improved spatial resolution for the detection of features and gradients in the water vapor imagery associated with a weak upper level low moving eastward across the southwestern US on 14 September 2010. GOES-15 is scheduled to replace GOES-11 as the operational GOES-West satellite in December 2011.

AWIPS images of the GOES-11 sounder Convective Available Potential Energy (CAPE) product (below) showed that the atmosphere was destabilizing in advance of the upper low, with CAPE values in the 1000-2000 J/kg range.

GOES-11 sounder Convective Available Potential Entegy (CAPE)

GOES-11 sounder Convective Available Potential Entegy (CAPE)

With the increasing instability and large scale lift ahead of the upper low, areas of thunderstorms developed over parts of Nevada, Arizona, and Utah, as seen on a MODIS 11.0 µm IR image with an overlay of cloud-to-ground lightning strikes (below). About an hour after the time of the MODIS image, one of these storms produced 1.0-inch diameter hail that covered the ground near Munds in northern Arizona (SPC storm reports).

MODIS 11.0 µm IR image + cloud-to-ground lightning strikes

MODIS 11.0 µm IR image + cloud-to-ground lightning strikes

CIMSS participation in GOES-R Proving Ground activities includes making a variety of MODIS and additional GOES Sounder images and products available for National Weather Service offices to add to their local AWIPS workstations. Currently there are 49 NWS offices receiving MODIS imagery and products from CIMSS.