The Genesis for the Coming East Coast Storm

January 21st, 2016
GOES-13 Water Vapor Infrared (6.5 µm) images [click to play animation]

GOES-13 Water Vapor Infrared (6.5 µm) images [click to play animation]

When strong storms appear in Forecast Models, it is tempting to trace back in the atmosphere where the system originates. The water vapor animation above, from GOES-13, ends with the future East Coast Storm developing over the lower Mississippi River Valley (where it produced severe weather). The rocking animation, below, shows that the storm moved in from the Pacific Ocean on January 19th.

GOES-13 Water Vapor Infrared (6.5 µm) images [click to play rocking animation]

GOES-13 Water Vapor Infrared (6.5 µm) images [click to play rocking animation]


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GOES-15 Water Vapor Infrared (6.5 µm) images [click to play animation]

GOES-15 Water Vapor Infrared (6.5 µm) images [click to play animation]

How did the impulse traverse the Pacific Ocean? The animation above, from GOES-15, shows the system approaching the West Coast at the end of the day on Monday 18 January. It is by no means the strongest-looking system in this animation, and it has the characteristics, at 2100 UTC on 18 January, of a developing cyclone west of San Francisco. The rocking animation, below, shows that the system crossed the Pacific Basin, moving well north of Hawaii, in about two days. What did the storm do before GOES-15 could view it?

GOES-15 Water Vapor Infrared (6.5 µm) images [click to play rocking animation]

GOES-15 Water Vapor Infrared (6.5 µm) images [click to play rocking animation]


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Himawari-8 Water Vapor Infrared (6.2 µm) images [click to play animation]

Himawari-8 Water Vapor Infrared (6.2 µm) images [click to play animation]

The animation from Himawari-8, above (note that Himawari-8 produces Full Disk imagery every 10 minutes; GOES-13 and GOES-15 time resolution for full disk imagery is every 3 hours, and the time resolution of the Himawari-8 animation here is degraded significantly to match that of GOES-13 and GOES-15; GOES-R will have temporal resolution equivalent to Himawari), shows a series of impulses moving off the coast of Asia, with the final impulse maintaining integrity into the central Pacific (shown here at 2100 UTC on 16 January 2016; here is the view from GOES-15 at the same time). The rocking animation, below, allows for easier tracing of these impulses. The impulse that would track across the Pacific, enter North America and become a strong storm appears to be a small enhancement in the Water Vapor imagery at 0600 UTC on Friday 15 January southwest of Japan, north or Taiwan, just emerging off the coast of Asia. It can be traced back to a large low pressure system over Siberia at the beginning of the Himawari-8 animation (on 13 January).

Himawari-8 Water Vapor Infrared (6.2 µm) images [click to play animation]

Himawari-8 Water Vapor Infrared (6.2 µm) images [click to play animation]


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This animation strings together Himawari-8, GOES-15 and GOES-13 Water Vapor imagery from 14 January through 21 January, showing the evolution, in 3-hour steps (the native GOES-13/GOES-15 temporal resolution for Full Disk Imagery), of the system as it moves from Asia across the Pacific into North America. The images below, are annotated water vapor imagery stepping back in time showing the impulse.

Himawari-8 Water Vapor Infrared (6.2 µm) images [click to play animation]

Himawari-8 Water Vapor Infrared (6.2 µm) images [click to play animation]

Tropical Storm Pali in the central Pacific

January 8th, 2016

Himawari-8 Water Vapor (6.2 µm) infrared Imagery [click to animate], imagery Courtesy JMA

Himawari-8 Water Vapor (6.2 µm) infrared Imagery [click to animate], imagery Courtesy JMA

Tropical Storm Pali has formed in the central Pacific, in a region east-southeast of Kwajalein Atoll (which atoll is at 9 N, 168 E), just west of warm Sea Surface Temperature anomalies (Source) associated with the ongoing El Nino. For the Central Pacific basin, Pali set new records for being the earliest-forming tropical cyclone on record (21 UTC on 7 January), as well as the most Equatorward-forming (at 4.7º N). The Himawari animation, above, of the 6.2 µm Water Vapor imagery from 0000 UTC on 7 January through 1500 UTC 8 January 2016 (mp4 available here), shows impressive upper-level outflow from the region of convection surrounding the storm center. A longer animation of Himawari 10.4 µm Infrared imagery (from 0000 UTC 06 January to 0650 UTC on 8 January) is available here. The Composite Infrared Imagery from AWIPS II, below, shows the slow but steady organization of the storm. Infrared brightness temperatures are very cold, with temperatures occasionally colder than -95º C.

Composite Infrared Imagery (10.7 µm) 0600 UTC 6 January 2016 - 1500 UTC on 8 January 2016 [click to animate]

Composite Infrared Imagery (10.7 µm) 0600 UTC 6 January 2016 – 1500 UTC on 8 January 2016 [click to animate]

Pali is forming in a region that allows views from both GOES-15 (overhead at the Equator and 135º W) and Himawari-8 (overhead at the Equator and 140º E). The Infrared animation below shows GOES-15 at Full Resolution from the Full Disk Imagery that is used to view Pali. Note that Himawari data has been degraded both spatially and temporally in the animation (to match that of GOES).

GOES-15 Infrared Imagery (10.7 µm) (left) and Himawari-8 Infrared (right) (10.35) at full GOES Resolution 0600 UTC 8 January 2016 - 1800 UTC 8 January 2016 [click to animate]

GOES-15 Infrared Imagery (10.7 µm) (left) and Himawari-8 Infrared (right) (10.35) at full GOES Resolution 0600 UTC 8 January 2016 – 1800 UTC 8 January 2016 [click to animate]

An animation that is at full resolution for Himawari-8, for just 3 hours, from 0600-0900 UTC, is below. Only two GOES-15 Images are available during this time period that includes 19 Himawari-8 images. (Note also the increase in spatial resolution with Himawari, from 4 km for GOES to 2 km for Himawari) There is considerable evolution to the storm during these three hours that present-day GOES cannot view because of limited scanning capabilities. GOES-R will provide spatial resolution and image scan rates identical to Himawari-8 so meteorologists will be better able to monitor storm evolution.

GOES-15 Infrared Imagery (10.7 µm) (left) and Himawari-8 Infrared (right) (10.35) at full Himawari-8 Resolution 0600 UTC 8 January 2016 - 0900 UTC 8 January 2016 [click to animate]

GOES-15 Infrared Imagery (10.7 µm) (left) and Himawari-8 Infrared (right) (10.35) at full Himawari-8 Resolution 0600 UTC 8 January 2016 – 0900 UTC 8 January 2016 [click to animate]

Himawari True-Color Imagery, below, shows both Pali, a large relatively disorganized system in the central north Pacific and Cyclone Ula, a compact and more organized system in the tropical south Pacific. Himawari True-Color (actually a 4-banded composite meant to emulate True Color) imagery is routinely available here.

Himawari-8 True-Color Visible Imagery [click to enlarge], imagery Courtesy JMA

Himawari-8 True-Color Visible Imagery [click to enlarge], imagery Courtesy JMA

Storms Enter California

January 6th, 2016
GOES-15 Water Vapor (6.5 µm) infrared Imagery  [click to animate]

GOES-15 Water Vapor (6.5 µm) infrared Imagery [click to animate]

Water Vapor Imagery, above, from GOES-15, shows a parade of storms that have hit California (now over the intermountain West and the Plains), are hitting California, or will hit California. MIMIC Total Precipitable Water, below, shows the the ribbons of moisture associated with each storm. The storm hitting California on 6 January appears not to access as much moisture as previous systems (although rainfall will still be heavy as the forcing is strong). However, the cellular structures in the water vapor imagery (above) suggest very cold air aloft that will support the development of showers on 7 January. In addition, moisture is pooling north of Hawaii in this animation and that moisture may be drawn into California by the end of the week. Click for an animated gif (100+ Megabytes) (mp4) of the GOES-15 Water Vapor Imagery from 1-7 January, showing the progression of storms into California.

MIMIC Total Precipitable Water for the 72 hours ending 1800 UTC on 6 January [click to enlarge]

MIMIC Total Precipitable Water for the 72 hours ending 1800 UTC on 6 January [click to animate]

GOES Water Vapor Animations for 2015

January 1st, 2016

The GOES-13 and GOES-15 Imager provides routine observations at five wavelengths, including 6.5 µm, a wavelength that is sensitive to water vapor absorption (SHyMet lesson). The YouTube animations below show full-disk GOES-13 (GOES-East) and GOES-15 (GOES-West) water vapor images at 3-hour intervals for every day during 2015. GOES-15 shows the remarkable tropical cyclone activity that occurred as a result of warmer-than-normal sea surface temperatures over the central Pacific. Much less hurricane activity occurred in the Atlantic.

Once GOES-R is launched in late 2016, the ABI instrument will provide full-disk images at 5-minute intervals, rather than the 3-hour intervals shown here. The animations from GOES-R will contain 288 images per day rather than 8.