Why 1-Minute data matters: Tracking Cloud Layers in a Winter Storm

February 5th, 2016
GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images, 1-minute time-step [click to play rocking animated gif]

GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images, 1-minute time-step [click to play rocking animated gif]

There are two animations a the top of this blog post, one with a 1-minute timestep, above, and one with a 15-minute timestep, below. The strong winter storm that hit Colorado on Monday 1 February (Blog Post) was accompanied by multiple cloud layers and snow during the day on Monday was not steady. Was it related to the holes that are present in the clouds? How easy is it to track the different clouds to predict the arrival, overhead, of a gap in the high clouds? Especially for the low clouds in eastern Colorado in this example, cloud hole tracking can be done with more confidence with 1-minute imagery. Decision Support related to short time-scale variability in snow accumulations can be done with more confidence with the 1-minute imagery.

GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images, 15-minute time-step [click to play rocking animated gif]

GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images, 15-minute time-step [click to play rocking animated gif]


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On 7 February 2016, GOES-14 in SRSO-R monitored the development of a very strong storm over the Atlantic Ocean (blog post) east of the United States. Consider the animations below, starting with the standard GOES-East time steps (nominally every 15 minutes with some gaps). If you are monitoring the storm development, or the motion of the individual convective clouds, the 15-minute temporal gaps are insufficient for confident detection of cloud motions. When, for example, does the surface circulation first appear? Do the cloud towers that appear in the 15-minute animation persist over the course of 15 minutes, or do they decay and reappear? In the succeeding animations below, at 5- and 1-minute intervals, increasing amounts of detail are present because the better temporal resolution is convincingly following features. Additionally, the precise timing of events is better captured.

GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images, 15-minute time-step [click to play animated gif]

GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images, 15-minute time-step [click to play animated gif]

GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images, 15-minute time-step [click to play animated gif]

GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images, 5-minute time-step [click to play animated gif]

GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images, 15-minute time-step [click to play animated gif]

GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images, 1-minute time-step [click to play animated gif]

The differences between 1-, 5- and 15-minute time steps are visualized in the rocking animation below. The right-most panel has a 15-minute timestep always, the middle panel starts with a 15-minute time step before switching to 5-minute, and the left-most panel shows 15-minute, 5-minute and 1-minute time steps. Note how the convective towers appear and disappear on timescales that make resolution in the 5-minute time step difficult and in the 15-minute timestep impossible. The region below is excised from the animations above, and is over the ocean south of the developing low pressure system.

GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images, 15-minute time-step (right panel), 15-minute then 5-minute time step (middle panel) and 15-minute, then 5-minute, then 1-minute time step (left panel) [click to play animated gif]

GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images, 15-minute time-step (right panel), 15-minute then 5-minute time step (middle panel) and 15-minute, then 5-minute, then 1-minute time step (left panel) [click to play animated gif]

Historic Winter Storm Along the US East Coast

January 22nd, 2016

MIMIC Total Precipitable Water, 1500 UTC 19 January -- 1400 UTC 22 January [click to enlarge]

MIMIC Total Precipitable Water, 1500 UTC 19 January — 1400 UTC 22 January [click to enlarge]

A storm forecast to produce near-record snowfalls over the Nation’s Capitol has started to move up the east coast of the United States on 22 January 2016. Snow that will fall requires two things: abundant moisture, and cold temperatures. The MIMIC Total Precipitable Water Product, shown above for the 72 hours ending at 1400 UTC on 22 January (Source) shows the circulation of the developing storm drawing moist air northward from both the Gulf of Mexico and the western Atlantic Ocean. Similarly, the toggle below shows the NESDIS Operational Blended Total Precipitable Water Product (Source, a product that ‘blends’ Total Precipitable Water observations from GPS and GOES-Sounder*). Significant moistening is apparent over the southeastern part of the United States.

*As the GOES-13 Sounder continues to be off-line due to an anomaly (Link), the principle driver of this product over the eastern US is now GPS data.

NESDIS Blended Total Precipitable Water, 1400 UTC on 21 and 22 January 2016 [Click to enlarge]

NESDIS Blended Total Precipitable Water, 1400 UTC on 21 and 22 January 2016 [click to enlarge]

Cold air is also present. The MODIS Land Surface Temperature product from 0731 UTC on 22 January shows temperatures (in cloud-free regions) colder than -5º C southward into Virginia. Dewpoints in this region are colder than -10º C. High Pressure over the East Coast is promoting cold air damming along the Appalachians as well.

MODIS-based Land Surface Temperature, 0722 UTC and the 0900 UTC WPC Surface Analysis, 22 January 2016 [Click to enlarge]

MODIS-based Land Surface Temperature, 0722 UTC and the 0900 UTC WPC Surface Analysis, 22 January 2016 [click to enlarge]

Suomi-NPP carries on board two instruments that provide vertical profiles of moisture and temperature in the atmosphere, the CrIS and the ATMS. NUCAPS Soundings combine information from those two soundings. NUCAPS Soundings sites from the early morning Suomi NPP Pass on 22 January are shown superimposed on the MODIS Land Surface Image below; five sounding sites (highlighted in red) were selected: northwest of Boston, over western Connecticut, New York City, Washington DC and central Virginia. These soundings all have common attributes: They are dry (although the vertical profiles from DC and Virginia show the most moisture: ~0.3″ of total precipitable water), they are too warm near the surface (detection of low-level inversions from satellite data is difficult) and they show lapse rates at mid-levels that suggest vigorous ascent may be possible. The 0600, 1200 and 1800 UTC Soundings from KIAD (below) also show dry air (at least initially: total precipitable water doubled from 0.24″ at 1200 UTC to 0.49″ at 1800 UTC) and steep mid-level lapse rates.

MODIS-based Land Surface Temperature, 0722 UTC and 0700 UTC NUCAPS Sounding Sites (in green) and the 0900 UTC WPC Surface Analysis, 22 January 2016 [Click to enlarge]

MODIS-based Land Surface Temperature, 0722 UTC and 0700 UTC NUCAPS Sounding Sites (in green) and the 0900 UTC WPC Surface Analysis, 22 January 2016 [click to enlarge]

Rawinsonde from KIAD (Dulles International Airport) at 0600, 1200 and 1800 UTC on 22 January 2016 [Click to enlarge]

Rawinsonde from KIAD (Dulles International Airport) at 0600, 1200 and 1800 UTC on 22 January 2016 [click to enlarge]

The Aqua Satellite, bearing the MODIS instrument, overflew the eastern United States shortly before 1900 UTC on 22 January 2016. MODIS samples the atmosphere at 36 different wavelengths, and selected images are shown below.

The toggle between the Visible (0.65 µm) and the ‘Snow Ice’ Channel in MODIS (1.63 µm), below, highlights regions of ice clouds. Ice particles absorb radiation with wavelength of 1.63 µm but water droplets scatter such radiation. Thus, regions in visible imagery that are white that include mostly ice crystals (or snow on the ground), for example the cirrus shield on the East Coast, will appear dark in the 1.63 µm imagery but bright in visible because clouds are highly reflective to visible light. Water-based clouds (over Mississippi, for example, or southeastern West Virginia; in fact, low clouds are apparent just to the west of the cirrus shield associated with the developing baroclinic leaf, from West Virginia southward to Savannah Georgia!) will appear bright in both channels.

MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) and near Infrared (1.63 µm) Imagery at 1836 UTC [Click to enlarge]

MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) and near Infrared (1.63 µm) Imagery at 1836 UTC [click to enlarge]

MODIS also includes a channel (1.38 µm) in a region in the electromagnetic spectrum where strong water vapor absorption occurs; this channel is ideal for high cloud detection. (GOES-R will also detect radiation at this wavelength) The toggle below shows the Visible (0.65 µm), Cirrus channel (1.38 µm) and Infrared window channel (11.02 µm) from MODIS. The storm at mid-day on 22 January was producing an extensive cirrus shield that had the classic baroclinic leaf structure (a structure that was also evident in the infrared window channel).

MODIS Visible (0.65 µm), Cirrus Channel (1.38 µm) and Window Channel Infrared (11.02 µm) Imagery at 1836 UTC [Click to enlarge]

MODIS Visible (0.65 µm), Cirrus Channel (1.38 µm) and Window Channel Infrared (11.02 µm) Imagery at 1836 UTC [click to enlarge]

Careful inspection of the visible and near-infrared channels from MODIS reveals transverse banding (features commonly associated with turbulence) along the western edge of the Cirrus Shield along the East Coast. The toggle below of the MODIS Water Vapor imagery (6.8 µm) shows distinct transverse banding. Pilot reports of turbulence with this system are widespread.

MODIS Infrared Water Vapor (6.8 µm) Imagery at 1836 UTC along with Pilot Reports of Turbulence (PIREPS) [Click to enlarge]

MODIS Infrared Water Vapor (6.8 µm) Imagery at 1836 UTC along with Pilot Reports of Turbulence (PIREPS) [click to enlarge]

To better monitor the long-duration storm, the GOES-13 (GOES-East) satellite was placed into Rapid Scan Operations (RSO) mode for a 2-day period beginning at 1215 UTC on 22 January. During RSO, images are available as frequently as every 5-7 minutes, an improvement over the routine 15-minute image interval (note: the ABI instrument on GOES-R will be able to provide images as often as every minute, or even every 30 seconds). Animations of RSO Visible (0.63 µm), Water Vapor (6.5 µm), and Infrared window (10.7 µm) imagery during the daylight portion of Day 1 of the storm are shown below.

GOES-13 Visible (0.63 µm) images [click to play animation]

GOES-13 Visible (0.63 µm) images [click to play animation]

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

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

GOES-13 Infrared window (10.7 µm) images [click to play animation]

GOES-13 Infrared window (10.7 µm) images [click to play animation]

Though they lack the temporal resolution provided by geostationary satellites such as GOES, polar-orbiting satellites such as the NOAA series (with their AVHRR instrument), Terra and Aqua (with their MODIS instrument), and Suomi NPP (with the VIIRS instrument) offer imagery with significantly improved spatial resolution. Shown below is a series of AVHRR, MODIS, and VIIRS Infrared window channel images (10.8 µm, 11.0 µm, and 11.45 µm, respectively) on 22 January, with the data projected into a 1-km AWIPS-I grid. Areas with cloud-top IR brightness temperatures in the -50º to -60º C range (orange to red color enhancement) can be seen as the storm moved across the eastern US.

AVHRR (10.8 µm), MODIS (11.0 µm), and VIIRS (11.45 µm) Infrared window channel images [click to enlarge]

AVHRR (10.8 µm), MODIS (11.0 µm), and VIIRS (11.45 µm) Infrared window channel images [click to enlarge]

Excellent detail can also be seen in a series of 1-km resolution MODIS Water Vapor (6.7 µm) images spanning the 21-22 January period, shown below.

MODIS Water Vapor (6.7 µm) images [click to enlarge]

MODIS Water Vapor (6.7 µm) images [click to enlarge]

One interesting aspect to note was that the cold front associated with the intensifying storm had moved southward across the Gulf of Mexico (surface analyses), crossed the mountainous terrain of Mexico, and emerged as an area of strong gap winds over the Pacific Ocean south of Mexico (in the Gulf of Tehuantepec). The leading edge of the gap wind flow, known as a Tehuano wind (or a “Tehuantepecer”), was marked by a thin arc cloud fanning out away from the southerrn coast of Mexico, with hazy plumes of blowing dust seen streaming southward off the coast as the strong northerly winds persisted during the day.

GOES-13 Visible (0.63 µm) images [click to play animation]

GOES-13 Visible (0.63 µm) images [click to play animation]

The hazy signature of blowing dust resulting from the strong gap wind flow was even more recognizable on Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color RGB imagery, below.

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color RGB image [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color RGB image [click to enlarge]

GOES-13 satellite-derived atmospheric motion vector (AMV) winds, below, were showing cloud targets moving at speeds around 30-35 knots. Unfortunately, there was no good Metop ASCAT wind coverage of the Tehuano winds (as was the case for past events such as these documented here and here).

GOES and ASCAT satellite winds [click to play animation]

GOES and ASCAT satellite winds [click to play animation]

===== 23 January  Update =====

As the surface low deepened to a minimum central pressure of 983 hPa and moved northeastward just off the US East Coast (surface analyses), GOES-13 Visible (0.63 µm) images, below, showed  the moisture — with some embedded convective elements, judging from the texture and shadowing of the cloud tops — moving inland from the Atlantic Ocean north of the storm. Thundersnow was in fact reported at a number of locations. A similar animation of GOES-13 Visible images covering the daylight portions of the 22-23 January period is available here, with the entire 48-hour Infrared window channel (10.7 µm)  animation here.

GOES-13 Visible (0.63 µm) images with surface weather symbols [click to play animation]

GOES-13 Visible (0.63 µm) images with surface weather symbols [click to play animation]

Consecutive Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color RGB images at 1652 and 1828 UTC, below, provided a more detailed view of the convective elements that were moving inland north of the storm center.

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color RGB images at 1652 and 1828 UTC [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color RGB images at 1652 and 1828 UTC [click to enlarge]

===== 24 January Update =====

MIMIC Total Precipitable Water product [click to enlarge]

MIMIC Total Precipitable Water product [click to enlarge]

Shown above is a 72-hour animation of the MIMIC TPW product (from 00 UTC on 21 January to 00 UTC on 24 January), which — as mentioned at the beginning of this blog post — revealed the large amount of moisture-rich air that was drawn northward and subsequently wrapped into the storm. South of Mexico, a narrow tongue of dry air (a signature of the aforementioned Tehuano wind event) was also clearly seen, moving southwestward over the Pacific Ocean.

GOES-13 Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images, with surface weather symbols [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-13 Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images, with surface weather symbols [click to play MP4 animation]

The entire 48-hour period of Rapid Scan Operations GOES-13 Water Vapor (6.5 µm) imagery with plots of surface weather symbols (above; also available as a large 66 Mbyte animated GIF) depicted the evolution of the storm as it moved across the Eastern US from 1215 UTC on 22 January to 1215 UTC on 24 January. The storm produced widespread heavy snowfall, areas of freezing rain and sleet, hurricane-force winds (peak gusts), and coastal flooding (WPC storm summary | NWS impacts statement | Capital Weather Gang blog) — it was ranked a Category 4 on the NESIS scale, and the 4th most intense since 1950 (NCEI overview). Features seen on the water vapor imagery included the development of a well-defined dry slot, cold conveyor belt, and elongated comma head / deformation zone that helped to produce the prolonged period of heavy snow. Interesting gravity waves were also seen within the offshore dry slot on 23 January, which appeared to be propagating westward back toward the coast. Larger-scale GOES-13 animations covering the entire 48-hour RSO period are also available [Water Vapor (6.5 µm): MP4 | animated GIF ; Infrared window channel (10.7 µm): MP4 | animated GIF].

The illumination of a Full Moon helped to provide a vivid “visible image at night” using the Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band (below), highlighting the clouds associated with the departing storm along and just off the US East Coast, as well as the vast areas inland that were snow-covered. In the toggle between the corresponding Infrared window (11.45 µm) image, cloud streets due to cold air streaming southward and southeastward across the Gulf of Mexico toward Cuba were also seen.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) and Infrared window channel (11.45 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) and Infrared window channel (11.45 µm) images [click to enlarge]

With the arrival of daylight on the morning of 24 January, the expansive area of snow cover was very apparent on GOES-13 Visible (0.63 µm) images, shown below. Snow depth values (inches) are plotted in cyan — 12 UTC depths for the earlier images, and 18 UTC depths for the later images.  The 18 UTC snow depth values were a bit less at many locations (due to compaction and/or melting), and parts of the extreme southern and southeastern edges of the snow cover were seen to melt away during the late morning hours.

GOES-13 Visible (0.63 µm) images [click to play animation]

GOES-13 Visible (0.63 µm) images [click to play animation]

False-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) images made using Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) and Snow/Ice (1.61 µm) images, below, showed how such RGB images can be useful for the discrimination of snow/ice (shades of red) vs. supercooled clouds (shades of white). Bare ground appears as shades of cyan.

Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) and False-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) and False-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

The full-resolution Terra MODIS true-color RGB images viewed using the SSEC RealEarth web map server, below, showed even better detail, including the very sharp northern edge of the snow cover from New York and Connecticut to Massachusetts.

Terra MODIS true-color RGB iimage [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS true-color RGB iimage [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS true-color RGB image [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS true-color RGB image [click to enlarge]

The wider swath of the VIIRS instrument on the Suomi NPP satellite provided a good true-color vs false-color image comparison, shown below. In this particular RGB image, show/ice (and glaciated ice crystal clouds) appear as shades of cyan, while supercooled water droplet clouds appear as shades of white.

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color and false-color images [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color and false-color images [click to enlarge]

Even greater detail could be seen in a 30-meter resolution Landsat-8 false-color RGB image, centered over the Washington DC area (below). Snow and ice also appear as shades of cyan in this image — ice can be seen in parts of the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers. The partially-plowed runway network of Reagan National Airport appears at the bottom center of the image.

Landsat-8 false-color image of the Washington DC area [click to enlarge]

Landsat-8 false-color image of the Washington DC area [click to enlarge]

A close-up Landsat-8 view of the Baltimore, Maryland area (below) also showed some ice forming in a few of the rivers.

Landsat-8 false-color image [click to enlarge]

Landsat-8 false-color image [click to enlarge]

Table of Maximum Wind Gusts [click to enlarge]

Table of Maximum Wind Gusts [click to enlarge]

Widespread strong gusts occurred with this storm, as shown in the Table above (from the National Weather Service). The hourly animation, below, of GOES-13 Water Vapor (6.5 µm) with Wind Gusts superimposed, shows that the strongest gusts occurred as the storm’s dry slot, depicted as darker shades in the water vapor imagery and a region which is often associated with strong subsidence, was nearby.

Hourly GOES-13 Infrared Water Vapor (6.5 µm) and surface reports of Wind Gusts (knots) [click to play animation]

Hourly GOES-13 Infrared Water Vapor (6.5 µm) and surface reports of Wind Gusts (knots) [click to play animation]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible and Near-Infrared imagery, below, shows the extent of the snowcover on 25 January. The benefit of multi-spectral imagery (as is available today from Suomi NPP, and will also be available from GOES-R) appears by comparing the 0.64 µm, 0.86 µm and 1.61 µm channels. For example, regions of snow vs. no snow are less distinct in the 0.86 µm (over northwest Connecticut, for example), but land/water differences are accentuated. Comparing the visible and the 1.61 µm brings out snow/ice features. The band of snow over southern New England is dark in the 1.61 µm because snow/ice absorbs radiation at that wavelength. Snow is highly reflective in the visible, however, and it appears bright white on that image. This comparison of visible and 1.61 µm can also be used to highlight ice clouds (as noted higher up in this blog post).

Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) and Near-Infrared (0.86 µm and 1.61 µm) imagery, 1753 UTC on 25 January 2016 [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) and Near-Infrared (0.86 µm and 1.61 µm) imagery, 1753 UTC on 25 January 2016 [click to enlarge]

RGB Imagery allows a one-image perspective (vs. an image toggle) to highlight features. The RGB image from Suomi NPP VIIRS imagery (0.64 µm and 1.61 µm) below shows snow cover (shades of red) over the Northeast. In the mid-Atlantic states, thin patchy clouds are present. The brightness of these clouds in the 1.61 µm channel suggests they are composed of supercooled water droplets.

Suomi NPP VIIRS RGB Imagery showing snow/ice features (red), water droplet cloud features (white) and bare ground (cyan), 1753 UTC on 25 January 2016 [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS RGB Imagery showing snow/ice features (red), water droplet cloud features (white) and bare ground (cyan), 1753 UTC on 25 January 2016 [click to enlarge]


===== Added 28 January =====
Rich Grumm, the SOO from the WFO in State College, discussed this storm as part of VISIT’s Satellite Chat series.

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