Banner cloud in Alaska

November 7th, 2018 |

Topography + Suomi NPP VIIRS Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images, with/without overlays of NAM12 250 hPa winds [click to play animation | MP4]

Topography + Suomi NPP VIIRS Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images, with/without overlays of NAM12 250 hPa winds [click to play animation | MP4]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images (above) showed a well-defined banner cloud extending from the Brooks Range in northern Alaska to the Beaufort Sea on 07 November 2018. Overlays of NAM12 model 250 hPa winds revealed the presence of a branch of the polar jet stream flowing northeastward over the region. Strong southwesterly winds interacting with the topography of the Brooks Range created a standing wave which led to the formation of the banner cloud.

In a comparison of Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images (below), note the significantly warmer 3.74 µm cloud-top brightness temperatures — as much as 40 to 50ºC warmer at 2009 UTC when the sun angle was highest over Alaska — caused by enhanced solar reflectance off the very small ice crystals at the top of the banner cloud.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-15 (GOES-West) Water Vapor (6.5 µm) and Infrared Window (10.7 µm) images (below) showed that a large banner cloud had persisted downwind of the Brooks Range fpr much of the day.

GOES-15 Water Vapor (6.5 µm, top) and Infrared Window (10.7 µm, bottom) images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-15 Water Vapor (6.5 µm, top) and Infrared Window (10.7 µm, bottom) images [click to play animation | MP4]

Blowing dust from the Copper River Valley in Alaska

November 1st, 2018 |

NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color RGB images [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color RGB images [click to enlarge]

Strong gap winds accelerating out of the Copper River Valley along the southern coast of Alaska were lofting fine particles of glacial silt/sand and transporting those aerosols southwestward across the Gulf of Alaska on 31 October and 01 November 2018. A sequence of NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images viewed using RealEarth (above) showed that the plume was more widespread on 01 November.

A comparison of Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images (below) showed the plume at 2022 UTC on 01 November. The map overlay has been removed from one set of images, to better reveal the dust plume source region. Note that the plume appeared much warmer (darker shades of red)  in the Shortwave Infrared image — this is due to enhanced solar reflectance off the small dust particles. Since airborne dust is generally transparent at longer infrared wavelengths, only the thickest portion of the plume exhibited a subtle signature on the 11.45 µm image.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images [click to enlarge]

The surface visibility briefly dropped to 3 miles at Middleton Island (PAMD) around the time of the Suomi NPP VIIRS images. as gusty north-northeasterly winds carried the plume over that location (below). Although Cordova (station identifier PACV) is only about 20 miles northwest of the Copper River Delta, the localized gap winds did not affect that site (where wind speeds were 3 knots or less the entire day).

Time series plot of surface observations at Middleton Island [click to enlarge]

Time series of surface observations at Middleton Island [click to enlarge]

ASCAT surface scatterometer winds (source) from Metop-A and Metop-B (below) showed speeds in the 25-30 knot range where the gap winds were exiting the Copper River Delta.

Metop-A and Metop-B ASCAT surface scatterometer winds [click to enlarge]

Metop-A and Metop-B ASCAT surface scatterometer winds [click to enlarge]

A toggle between Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) and Infrared Brightness Temperature Difference (11-12 µm) images (source) at 2204 UTC on 01 November (below) showed a subtle BTD signal within the more dense center portion of the plume, due to the silicate composition of some of the airborne particulate matter.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) and Infrared Brightness Temperature Difference (11-12 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) and Infrared Brightness Temperature Difference (11-12 µm) images [click to enlarge]

VIIRS Aerosol Optical Thickness (AOT) products from the eIDEA site (below) revealed larger AOT values on 01 November.

VIIRS Aerosol Optical Thickness product [click to enlarge]

VIIRS Aerosol Optical Thickness product [click to enlarge]

The gap winds were caused by a strong gradient between cold high pressure over Interior Alaska/Yukon and an occluding gale force low pressure system in the Gulf of Alaska (surface analyses: WPC)| OPC). GOES-15 (GOES-West) Visible (0.63 µm) images (below) showed the circulation of the low, and surface observations highlighted the cold air over snow-covered inland areas. While the dust plume was faintly apparent, it did not show up as well with the lower spatial resolution and large viewing angle of GOES-15.

GOES-15 Visible (0.63 µm) images [click to play animation]

GOES-15 Visible (0.63 µm) images [click to play animation]

A similar — though more prolonged and intense — event was noted in October 2016.

Hurricane Walaka

October 1st, 2018 |

GOES-15 Infrared Window (10.7 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-15 Infrared Window (10.7 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-15 (GOES-West) Infrared Window (10.7 µm) images (above) showed the formation of a well-defined eye of Hurricane Walaka during a period of rapid intensification (ADT | SATCON) from 0000-2330 UTC on 01 October 2018; Walaka was classified a Category 5 hurricane as of the 02 October 00 UTC advisory. Walaka was moving over very warm water with Sea Surface Temperatures of 30ºC.

A 1536 UTC DMSP-16 SSMIS Microwave (85 GHz) image from the CIMSS Tropical Cyclones site (below) revealed a small eye (reported to be 20 nautical miles in diameter at 21 UTC).

DMSP-16 SSMIS (85 GHz) Microwave image [click to enlarge]

DMSP-16 SSMIS (85 GHz) Microwave image [click to enlarge]

A side-by-side comparison of JMA Himawari-8 and GOES-15 Infrared Window images (below) showed Walaka from 2 different satellite perspectives — the superior spatial resolution of Himawari-8 (2 km, vs 4 km for GOES-15) was offset by the much larger viewing angle. Cloud-top infrared brightness temperatures were -80ºC and colder (shades of violet) from both satellites early in the animation, but warmed somewhat into the -70 to -75ºC range by 00 UTC on 02 October.

Infrared Window images from Himawari-8 (10.3 µm, left) and GOES-15 (10.7 µm, right) [click to play animation | MP4]

Infrared Window images from Himawari-8 (10.3 µm, left) and GOES-15 (10.7 µm, right) [click to play animation | MP4]

===== 02 October Update =====

NOAA-20 VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Walaka remained classified as a Category 5 hurricane until the 15 UTC advisory on 02 October, when it was assigned Category 4 status after some weakening as a result of an overnight eyewall replacement cycle. A toggle between NOAA-20 VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images (above; courtesy of William Straka, CIMSS) showed the storm at 1240 UTC or 2:40 am local time.

GOES-15 Infrared Window (10.7 µm) images (below) showed the northward motion of Waleka. Given that the storm was forecast to pass very close to Johnston Atoll, the US Coast Guard was dispatched to evacuate personnel on Johnston Island.

GOES-15 Infrared Window (10.7 µm) images; the white circle shows the location of Johnston Atoll [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-15 Infrared Window (10.7 µm) images; the white circle shows the location of Johnston Atoll [click to play animation | MP4]

The MIMIC-TC product (below) showed the eyewall replacement cycle during the 0000-1445 UTC period.

MIMIC-TC morphed microwave product [click to play animation]

MIMIC-TC morphed microwave product [click to play animation]

Around 1830 UTC, a toggle between GOES-15 Infrared (10.7 µm) and GPM GMI Microwave (85 GHz) images (below) showed a small eye, with evidence of a larger outer eyewall suggesting that another eyewall replacement cycle was taking place.

GOES-15 Infrared Window (10.7 µm) and GPM GMI Microwave (85 GHz) images [click to enlarge]

GOES-15 Infrared Window (10.7 µm) and GPM GMI Microwave (85 GHz) images [click to enlarge]

Hurricane Rosa

September 28th, 2018 |
GOES-15 Ifrared Window (10.7 µm, left) and GOES-17

GOES-15 Infrared Window (10.7 µm, left) and GOES-17 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm, right) images [click to play animation | MP4]

* GOES-17 images shown here are preliminary and non-operational *

GOES-15 (GOES-West) Infrared Window (10.7 µm) and GOES-17 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images (above) showed Hurricane Rosa on the morning of 28 September 2018, after it had rapidly intensified to Category 4 intensity overnight (ADT | SATCON). Since GOES-17 was operating in a Mode 6 scan strategy, images were available every 10 minutes (compared to every 15 minutes from GOES-15, with 30-minute gaps during Full Disk scans every 3 hours). A notable warming trend was seen in the cloud tops surrounding the eye.

A toggle between DMSP-18 SSMIS Microwave (85 GHz) and GOES-15 Infrared Window (10.7 µm) from the CIMSS Tropical Cyclones site (below) showed the bands of heavier precipitation withing the central dense overcast surrounding the eye at 1333 UTC.

DMSP-18 SSMIS Microwave (85 GHz) and GOES-15 Infrared Window (10.7 µm) images [click to enlarge]

DMSP-18 SSMIS Microwave (85 GHz) and GOES-15 Infrared Window (10.7 µm) images [click to enlarge]

After sunrise, a comparison of GOES-15 Visible (0.63 µm) and GOES-17 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images (below) revealed an eye that was filled with low-level clouds.

GOES-15 Visible (0.63 µm, left) and GOES-17 "Red" Visible (0.64 µm, right) images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-15 Visible (0.63 µm, left) and GOES-17 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm, right) images [click to play animation | MP4]

An animation of the MIMIC-TC product (below) showed that Rosa went through an eyewall replacement cycle during the morning, and was downgraded to a Category 3 intensity at 15 UTC.

MIMIC-TC morphed microwave product, 0000-1545 UTC [click to enlarge]

MIMIC-TC morphed microwave product, 0000-1545 UTC [click to enlarge]