GOES-14 remained in Super Rapid Scan Operations for GOES-R (SRSO-R) demonstration mode on 21 May 2015 — and an 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 have readers submit their 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.
GOES-14 0.62 µm visible imagery, above, (here as an mp4, and here as a very large (220+ megabytes) animated gif) shows the development of convection over eastern North Carolina in a region of slight risk according to SPC (below).
Mesoscale Discussion #713 from SPC, below, referenced the Super-Rapid scan imagery:
MESOSCALE DISCUSSION 0713
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
1111 AM CDT THU MAY 21 2015
AREAS AFFECTED…E-CNTRL AND ERN NC / SC GRAND STRAND
CONCERNING…SEVERE POTENTIAL…WATCH POSSIBLE
VALID 211611Z – 211745Z
PROBABILITY OF WATCH ISSUANCE…60 PERCENT
SUMMARY…SCATTERED STORMS ARE FORECAST TO DEVELOP OVER THE NEXT FEW
HOURS. AN ISOLATED SEVERE THREAT WILL LIKELY DEVELOP AND A WATCH
WILL STRONGLY BE CONSIDERED.
DISCUSSION…SUBJECTIVE SURFACE MESOANALYSIS PLACES A LOW 30 MI W
SOP WITH A WEST-EAST ORIENTED WARM FRONT AND A TRAILING COLD FRONT
ACROSS THE SC PIEDMONT. A PREFRONTAL CONFLUENCE/SURFACE TROUGH
EXTENDS FROM THE LOW SEWD THROUGH THE GRAND STRAND VICINITY.
OBSERVATIONS TO THE E OF THE SURFACE TROUGH AND LOCATED WITHIN THE
WARM SECTOR SHOW TEMPS WARMING TO NEAR 80 DEG F WITH BOUNDARY LAYER
DEWPOINTS IN THE MID-UPPER 60S INLAND AND AROUND 70 NEAR THE COAST.
SUPER RAPIDSCAN VISIBLE IMAGERY SHOWS A BUILDING TCU FIELD
IMMEDIATELY E OF THE LOW AND ALONG THE PREFRONTAL TROUGH/CONFLUENCE.
WATER VAPOR IMAGERY LATE THIS MORNING IMPLIES A WEAK LEAD
DISTURBANCE MOVING ACROSS W-CNTRL NC AHEAD OF THE MID MS VALLEY
SHORTWAVE TROUGH FORECAST TO APPROACH THE CNTRL APPALACHIANS LATER
TODAY. IT SEEMS THE WEAK UPPER FORCING FOR ASCENT PROVIDED BY THE
LEAD IMPULSE COUPLED WITH ADDITIONAL DIABATIC HEATING WILL ERODE THE
CAP OVER THE NEXT 1-2 HOURS AND SCATTERED STORM COVERAGE IS PROBABLE
BY THE 18-19Z TIMEFRAME.
VEERING AND A GRADUAL STRENGTHENING OF WINDS WITH HEIGHT WILL
SUPPORT STORM ORGANIZATION ONCE A FEW VIGOROUS UPDRAFTS BECOME
ESTABLISHED. FORECAST SOUNDINGS DEPICT MODERATE BUOYANCY AS OF 16Z
ACROSS THE WARM SECTOR AND THIS SHOULD FAVOR STORM INTENSIFICATION
OVER THE NEXT SEVERAL HOURS ONCE INITIATION COMMENCES. ISOLD LARGE
HAIL AND DMGG WINDS WILL BE THE PRIMARY THREATS. DESPITE TEMPERED
LOW-LEVEL SHEAR…A TORNADO MAY ALSO BE POSSIBLE ESPECIALLY IF A
SUPERCELL CAN DEVELOP AND FAVORABLY TRACK ALONG THE WARM FRONT.
LAT…LON 35267979 36097844 36297643 35847549 34977597 33737851
33897960 34497991 35267979
The GOES-13 Sounder captured some of the destabilization that occurred ahead of the developing line of convection. Values less than -5 are widespread over southeastern North Carolina at 1600 UTC, after which time cirrus blowoff obscured the satellite view.Suomi NPP’s orbits on 21 May allowed successive views of the developing convection, once at 1725 UTC and once near 1905 UTC. The convection developed near the edge of the swath in both images, however, so NUCAPS soundings did not view the environment closest to the storms. Infrared imagery, below, shows the quick evolution of convection. VIIRS visible (0.64 µm) and near-infrared (1.61 µm) imagery, below, shows that the developing storms glaciated quickly; the 1.61 µm imagery over the convection shows the darker grey values characteristic of regions where ice crystals are strongly absorbing radiation. Water-based clouds — over Kentucky, for example — appear as bright white in both channels.
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%.
One interesting feature seen on the visible channel images above was the apparent merger of the large dominant dryline storm and a smaller northward-moving storm that had formed in Mexico (radar animation). In GOES-13 10.7 µm IR imagery with an overlay of SPC storm reports (below; click image to play animation), one report of 2.0-inch diameter hail was seen around or shortly after the time of the storm merger.
With higher spatial resolution IR imagery from MODIS (1-km), VIIRS (375-meter), and AVHRR (1-km), much colder cloud-top IR brightness temperatures were seen (below) compared to the corresponding 4-km resolution GOES IR imagery at those times — especially during the early formative stages of the thunderstorms captured with MODIS and VIIRS. The coldest cloud-top IR brightness temperature on the 2128 UTC AVHHRR image was -80º C, compared to -67º C on the 2130 UTC GOES image.
A more detailed discussion of this event can be found on the RAMMB GOES-R Proving Ground Blog.