Thunderstorms over the interior of Alaska

June 19th, 2014
Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible channel images, with contours of GFS90 500 hPa geopotential height

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible channel images, with contours of GFS90 500 hPa geopotential height

AWIPS images of Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm  visible channel data (above) showed the development of early afternoon thunderstorms over the interior of Alaska as an upper-level low moved westward over the region on 19 June 2014.

An animation of VIIRS 11.45 µm IR channel images spanning the 18-19 June period (below) depicted large areas of cloudiness exhibiting cold cloud-top IR brightness temperature values in the -45 to -50º C range (darker red color enhancement). During this time some locations across the interior of Alaska received over 4 inches of rainfall, prompting the issuance of Flood Warnings for parts of the Goodpaster, Salcha, and Upper Chena Rivers.

Suomi NPP VIIRS 11.45 µm IR channel images

Suomi NPP VIIRS 11.45 µm IR channel images

————————————————————————————-

Blended Total Precipitable Water product (click to play animation)

Blended Total Precipitable Water product (click to play animation)

The Blended Total Precipitable Water (TPW) product (above; click image to play animation) showed areas where TPW values were in the 25-30 mm or 1.0 to 1.2 inch range (darker green to yellow color enhancement). The corresponding Percent of Normal TPW product (below; click image to play animation) indicated that these TPW values were generally in the 150-200% of normal range for this region and this time of year.

Percent of Normal Blended Total Precipitable Water product (click to play animation)

Percent of Normal Blended Total Precipitable Water product (click to play animation)

Mesoscale Convective System along the Gulf Coast region

April 30th, 2014
Radar-estimated Storm Total Precipitation for the 24-hour period ending at 13:47 UTC on 30 April

Radar-estimated Storm Total Precipitation for the 24-hour period ending at 13:47 UTC on 30 April

A large Mesoscale Convective System (MCS) developed ahead of a slow-moving cold front and moved over the Gulf Coast region of the US on 29 April30 April 2014, producing record rainfall totals (WeatherUnderground) and creating widespread severe flooding across parts of southern Alabama and the western Florida Panhandle. The 24-hour WSR-88D Storm Total Precipitation as visualized using the SSEC RealEarth web map server (above) showed swaths of radar-estimated precipitation in excess of 10 inches (violet color enhancement) — but some locations reported actual storm total rainfall amounts exceeding 20 inches (NWS Mobile/Pensacola).

AWIPS images of the MIMIC Total Precipitable Water (TPW) product (below; click image to play animation; Atlantic sector animation) indicated that there were multiple northward surges of TPW values in the 45-50 mm or 1.78-2.0 inch range (darker orange color enhancement) during the 28-30 April time period.

MIMIC Total Precipitable Water product (click image to play animation)

MIMIC Total Precipitable Water product (click image to play animation)

4-km resolution GOES-13 10.7 µm IR channel images (below; click image to play animation) displayed large areas of unusually cold GOES cloud-top IR brightness temperatures (colder than -80º C, violet color enhancement) — in fact, the coldest GOES-13 10.7 µm IR cloud-top brightness temperature seen was -86º C at 12:15 UTC.

GOES-13 10.7 µm IR channel images (click to play animation)

GOES-13 10.7 µm IR channel images (click to play animation)

This MCS also produced very large amounts of cloud-to-ground lightning (below; click image to play animation), with the highest number of 15-minute interval lightning strikes being 5379 negative and 697 positive at 11:15 UTC.

GOES-13 10.7 µm IR channel images with cloud-to-ground lightning strikes (click to play animation)

GOES-13 10.7 µm IR channel images with cloud-to-ground lightning strikes (click to play animation)

A 1-km resolution MODIS IR image at 04:11 UTC on 30 April (below) displayed a minimum cloud-top IR brightness temperature of -87º C (darker violet color enhancement).

MODIS 11.0 µm IR channel image

MODIS 11.0 µm IR channel image

375-meter resolution (mapped onto a 1-km AWIPS grid) Suomi NPP VIIRS 11.45 µm IR channel images (below) displayed a minimum cloud-top IR brightness temperature of -90º C (dark violet color enhancement) at 06:57 UTC on 29 April.

Suomi NPP VIIRS 11.45 µm IR channel images

Suomi NPP VIIRS 11.45 µm IR channel images

1-km resolution POES AVHRR 12.0 µm IR channel images (below) exhibited a minimum cloud-top IR brightness temperature of -93º C at 10:12 UTC and 11:07 UTC on 30 April.

POES AVHRR 12.0 µm IR channel images

POES AVHRR 12.0 µm IR channel images

Brightness temperatures seen on a single-channel IR image do not always indicate the true cloud top temperature value — but in this case, the -93º C value (which was also seen on the corresponding POES AVHRR 10.8 µm IR image) agreed with minimum value on the POES AVHRR CLAVR-x Cloud Top Temperature product. The POES AVHRR Cloud Top Height product indicated values of 15-16 km in these areas of extremely cold IR temperatures (below).

POES AVHRR 10.8 µm IR channel, Cloud Top Temperature product, and Cloud Top Height product at 11:07 UTC

POES AVHRR 10.8 µm IR channel, Cloud Top Temperature product, and Cloud Top Height product at 11:07 UTC

As we have seen with previous cases of strong convection exhibiting intense overshooting tops, nighttime Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 um Day/Night Band imagery (below) showed that this MCS produced a large pattern of concentric mesospheric airglow waves that could be seen traveling away from the storm for a considerable distance.

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 um Day/Night Band image

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 um Day/Night Band image

Landsat-8 images of Washington State landslide site

March 23rd, 2014
Landsat-8 0.59 µm panochromatic visible image of the Washington State landslide site

Landsat-8 0.59 µm panochromatic visible image of the Washington State landslide site

Kudos to Russ Dengel of the SSEC RealEarth web map server development team for spotting this: a relatively cloud-free overpass of the Landsat-8 satellite which revealed the site of the massive landslide/mudslide near the small town of Oso in northwestern Washington State (north of Seattle). The animation shown above was made using RealEarth to zoom in with the Google Maps base layer, and then toggle between the base map and an overlay of 15-meter resolution Landsat-8 0.59 µm (Band 8) panochromatic visible imagery at 19:03 UTC or 12:03 PM local time on 23 March 2014. It can be seen that debris from the landslide — which occurred a day earlier — covered one mile of State Road 530, cutting off access to the town of Darlington (located east of the landslide site); it also blocked the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River, leading to fears of localized flooding both upstream and downstream of the landslide site.

The Landsat-8 visible image is shown below. The landslide was blamed on ground saturation due to heavy rainfall in the region over the past month (30-day total rainfall | depature from normal).

Landsat-8 0.59 µm panochromatic visible image

Landsat-8 0.59 µm panochromatic visible image

===== 01 April Update =====

Landsat-8 0.59 µm panochromatic visible image on 01 April

Landsat-8 0.59 µm panochromatic visible image on 01 April

14 days later, there was another overpass of the Landsat-8 satellite; it could be seen on the 0.59 µm panochromatic visible image (above) that the mudslide still covered a significant portion of State Road 530. The 1.61 µm near-IR image (below) revealed that the mudslide had altered the course of the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River, and highlighted areas where some localized flooding was occurring due to a widening of the river (water is a strong absorber at the 1.61 µm wavelength, so it appears dark on the near-IR image).

Landsat-8 1.61 µm near-IR image on 01 April

Landsat-8 1.61 µm near-IR image on 01 April

Strong Storm in the Mediterranean

November 19th, 2013
Meteosat-10 10.8 µm infrared channel images (click to play animation)

Meteosat-10 10.8 µm infrared channel images (click to play animation)

Cyclone Cleopatra moved through the central Mediterranean Sea, causing flooding in Italy and Sardinia (BBC News Link) with northeastern Sardinia particularly hard hit. The infrared imagery from Meteosat-10, above, and the water vapor imagery, below, shows the slow movement of the entire system within the Mediterranean basin, as well as the strong thunderstorms over Sardinia later in the day on 18 November. Note in the Infrared animation that the minor eruption of Etna, on Sicily, is apparent (as documented here).

Meteosat-10 6.2 µm water vapor channel images (click to play animation)

Meteosat-10 6.2 µm water vapor channel images (click to play animation)

A higher-resolution view centered on Sardinia, below, shows the redevelopment of strong thunderstorms (inferred by cold cloud tops on the IR imagery) over Sardinia ending after 1800 UTC on 18 November as dry air swept north. The visible imagery (bottom) is also testimony to the training aspect of this convection. (Hat tip to Byron Grisham at NOAA/OSPO for alerting us about this noteworthy storm)

Meteosat-10 10.8 µm infrared channel images (click to play animation)

Meteosat-10 10.8 µm infrared channel images (click to play animation)

Meteosat-10 0.7 µm visible channel images (click to play animation)

Meteosat-10 0.7 µm visible channel images (click to play animation)