Tornado in central California

November 15th, 2015 |

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

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

An EF-1 tornado was on the ground for about 20 minutes near Denair (Local Storm Report | Facebook post) in central California on 15 November 2015. 1-km resolution GOES-15 Visible (0.63 µm) images (above) showed that clusters of small thunderstorms rapidly developed in an environment of instability along and just behind a fast-moving cold frontal boundary. The location of the tornado is indicated by a red “T” on the 2145, 2200, and 2211 UTC images. Very strong southwesterly winds aloft allowed the upwind portion of the highly-tilted thunderstorms to be brightly illuminated by the low sun angle of late afternoon in mid-November.

The corresponding 4-km resolution GOES-15 Infrared (10.7 µm) images (below) revealed that cloud-top IR brightness temperatures quickly cooled from -23º C at 2130 UTC to -42º C at 2200 UTC.

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

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

There was a 30-minute gap in GOES-15 coverage from 2100 to 2130 UTC (due to a full disk scan), but a comparison of 1-km resolution NOAA-19 AVHRR Visible (0.63 µm) and Infrared (10.8 µm) caught the very early growth of the tornado-producing storm at 2115 UTC (below). The cloud-top IR brightness temperatures were as cold as -23º C at that time, indicating a high probability that cloud glaciation had begun.

NOAA-19 Visible (0.63 µm) and Infrared (10.8 µm) images [click to enlarge]

NOAA-19 Visible (0.63 µm) and Infrared (10.8 µm) images [click to enlarge]

A timely overpass of the Suomi NPP satellite allowed a comparison of 375-meter resolution VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) and Infrared (11.45 µm) images during the time that the tornado was srill on the ground (below). Once again, the strong slant of the storms due to increasing wind speeds aloft allowed the western/southwestern sides of the thunderstorm clouds to be brightly illuminated on the visible image. The coldest cloud-top IR brightness temperature was -51º C (yellow color enhancement), which was just shy of the -53º C tropopause temperature reported on the Oakland rawinsonde report at 12 UTC.

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

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

A VIIRS true-color image of the storm visualized using RealEarth is shown below. The actual satellite overpass time was around 2151 UTC.

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

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

GOES-15 sounder Lifted Index (LI) derived product images (below) showed the pockets of post-frontal instability over central California — LI values less than -4 C were seen (yellow color enhancement).

GOES-15 sounder Lifted Index derived product images [click to play animation]

GOES-15 sounder Lifted Index derived product images [click to play animation]

NOAA/CIMSS ProbSevere with a Nebraska Hailstorm

September 22nd, 2015 |
GOES-13 Visible (0.63 µm) images [click to play rocking animation]

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

A severe hail-producing thunderstorm moved over northeast Nebraska before noon on 22 September (SPC Storm Reports). The region hit was just south of a Marginal Risk of Severe Weather (The update at 1630 UTC included the region of severe weather). The GOES-13 visible animation, above, shows the initial development occurring along a subtle cloud line aligned mostly east-west.

The NOAA/CIMSS ProbSevere model produces a probability that a developing thunderstorm will initially produce severe weather within the next sixty minutes. It consistently supplies information with a good lead time, and the storm on 22 September was no exception. The animation below shows the product for about an hour before the first storm report at 1408 UTC. The storm out of which the hail dropped was, at 1300 UTC, flagged as having a ProbSevere under 10%; values exceeded 10% at 1314 UTC and then jumped to 60+% at 1336 UTC (the first time that the value exceeded 50%) Values fluctuated between 60 and 80% between 1336 and 1400 UTC. After 1400 UTC, values increased into the mid-80s. The first report of hail was at 1408 UTC, 32 minutes after ProbSevere jumped above 50%. A severe thunderstorm warning for hail was issued at 1412 UTC.

NOAA/CIMSS ProbSevere values, 1300-1412 UTC on 22 September 2015 [click to play animation]

NOAA/CIMSS ProbSevere values, 1300-1412 UTC on 22 September 2015 [click to play animation]

The GOES Sounder Lifted index product, below, (also available here) showed the instability that was present over the central Plains.

GOES-13 Sounder DPI Values of Lifted Index [click to play animation]

GOES-13 Sounder DPI Values of Lifted Index [click to play animation]

Large Hail over the Upper Midwest

August 3rd, 2015 |
GOES-13 Visible (0.63µm) imagery [click to play animation]

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

GOES-13 Sounder DPI Lifted Index, times as indicated  [click to play animation]

GOES-13 Sounder DPI Lifted Index, times as indicated [click to play animation]

Strong thunderstorms developed over the upper midwest ahead of a cold front in the afternoon of 2 August 2015. Large Hail (up to 4.25″ diameter in Ogemaw County Michigan) fell and strong winds were observed (up to 70 mph in Portage County Wisconsin) over parts of eastern Wisconsin and lower Michigan. (SPC Storm Report). The visible animation from GOES-13, top (available here as an mp4), shows the development of the storms.

The destabilization of the atmosphere was captured well with the GOES Sounder depiction of Lifted Index, shown above. Values exceeding -10º C were common in the moist air feeding into the developing thunderstorms. The GOES-R Legacy Atmospheric Profile (LAP) Algorithm for 2 August similarly shows the strong instability around Lake Michigan. Lifted Indices also exceeded -10º C.

GOES-R LAP Lifted Index, times as indicated  [click to play animation]

GOES-R LAP Lifted Index, times as indicated, times as indicated [click to play animation]

GOES-13 Sounder DPI Convective Available Potential Energy (CAPE), times as indicated  [click to play animation]

GOES-13 Sounder DPI Convective Available Potential Energy (CAPE), times as indicated [click to play animation]

The GOES-R LAP Algorithm (and the GOES-Sounder) can also compute Convective Available Potential Energy. Values for the GOES Sounder are shown above (they are routinely available here); those for the GOES-R LAP Algorithm are below. The GOES-13 Sounder showed values approaching 5000 J/kg. Values from the GOES-R LAP Algorithm show values around 3000 J/kg. Note how the spatial extent of the instability in both CAPE and LI fields matches well in the Sounder and LAP fields.

GOES-R LAP Convective Available Potential Energy (CAPE), times as indicated  [click to play animation]

GOES-R LAP Convective Available Potential Energy (CAPE), times as indicated [click to play animation]

The storms occurred on a day shortly after the Full Moon, so they were well-illuminated for the Suomi NPP Day Night Band imagery, shown below for 0751 UTC. The parallel lines of clouds over eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania marks a wind-shift line as shown in this plot that includes surface observations. Those parallel lines of clouds were persistent, as they were present in the 0603 UTC Day Night Band imagery as well (Click here for a toggle between 0613 and 0751 UTC.)

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day Night Band Visible (0.70 µm) Imagery [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day Night Band Visible (0.70 µm) Imagery [click to enlarge]

The 11.45 µm Imagery from Suomi NPP shows evidence of overshooting tops persisting at night.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Infrared (11.45 µm) Imagery [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Infrared (11.45 µm) Imagery [click to enlarge]

Long-track Tornado over southwestern Manitoba

July 27th, 2015 |

Color-enhanced Infrared (10.7 µm) imagery from GOES-15 (left) and GOES-13 (right), times as indicated  [click to play animation]

Color-enhanced Infrared (10.7 µm) imagery from GOES-15 (left) and GOES-13 (right), times as indicated [click to play animation]

A strong tornado (rated a high-end EF-2) touched down near Pierson, Manitoba at around 0130 UTC on 28 July or 8:30 pm local time on 27 July (Press Report) and persisted until about 0355 UTC or 10:55 pm local time (near Virden Manitoba). The animation above shows GOES-15 (left) and GOES-13 (right) Infrared imagery from 0000 UTC through 0430 UTC. The strong storm lifting northward over southwestern Manitoba is apparent, with an enhanced-V signature especially noticeable in the GOES-13 imagery.

A closer view of the tornadic supercell is shown below, with overlays of surface reports (metric units). The pulsing nature of the overshooting tops is evident in the fluctuation of the coldest cloud-top IR brightness temperatures (the coldest of which was -69º C, darker black color enhancement, on the 0300 UTC GOES-15 and 0315 UTC GOES-13 images). There are different apparent positions of the storms based on the satellite that views them because of parallax shifts. Such shifts are especially pronounced at higher latitudes with very tall storms.

GOES-15 (left) and GOES-13 (right) 10.7 µm Infrared images, with surface reports [click to play animation]

GOES-15 (left) and GOES-13 (right) 10.7 µm Infrared images, with surface reports [click to play animation]

A 1-km resolution Terra MODIS 11.0 µm Infrared image at 0331 UTC is shown below; the minimum cloud-top IR brightness temperature was -73º C.

Terra MODIS 11.0 µm Infrared image [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS 11.0 µm Infrared image [click to enlarge]

GOES-13 Visible (0.63 µm) imagery, times as indicated  [click to play animation]

GOES-13 Visible (0.63 µm) imagery, times as indicated [click to play animation]

Visible imagery from GOES-13 (above) and GOES-15 (below) showed the overshooting tops associated with the tornadic thunderstorm, as well as the rapidly expanding cirrus shield.

GOES-15 Visible (0.62 µm) imagery, times as indicated  [click to play animation]

GOES-15 Visible (0.62 µm) imagery, times as indicated [click to play animation]

A closer view of the tornadic supercell from GOES-15 vs GOES-13 is shown below, with overlays of surface reports (metric units). The overshooting tops are again apparent on the images, along with an above-anvil plume (which is easier seen on the GOES-13 images, due to a more favorable forward-scattering viewing geometry). The robust convective development was first seen on the 2030 UTC images, in the vicinity of the Saskatchewan/Manitoba/North Dakota border region.

GOES-15 (left) and GOES-13 (right) 0.63 µm visible channel images, with surface reports [click to play animation]

GOES-15 (left) and GOES-13 (right) 0.63 µm visible channel images, with surface reports [click to play animation]

As an area of low pressure was deepening over eastern Montana, warm and humid air was surging northward into far southern Saskatchewan and Manitoba (surface analyses). GOES sounder derived product images (available from this site) of Convective Available Potential Energy (CAPE), Lifted Index, and Total Precipitable Water (below) showed that the environment across southern Manitoba was becoming increasingly unstable and moist leading up to the time of convective initiation.

GOES sounder CAPE derived product images [click to play animation]

GOES sounder CAPE derived product images [click to play animation]

GOES sounder Lifted Index derived product images [click to play animation]

GOES sounder Lifted Index derived product images [click to play animation]

GOES sounder Total Precipitable Water derived product images [click to play animation]

GOES sounder Total Precipitable Water derived product images [click to play animation]