The northerly flow of arctic air over the still-unfrozen waters of Lake Superior was aiding the development of lake effect snow (LES) bands, some of which were moving inland over the eastern portion of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. One of the more well-defined LES bands was seen to be moving across the Grand Marais area — a cooperative observer 10 miles south of the city reported 8.5 inches of new snow during the 24-hour period from 12 UTC on 16 January to 12 UTC on 17 January.Looking farther to the south, an interesting feature was seen in the southern part of ice-covered Green Bay, Wisconsin (below): a channel through the ice (red arrows) had been cut by the US Coast Guard icebreaker Mackinaw during the evening of 14 January, to allow passage for a ship to unload cargo at a dock along the mouth of the Fox River (which empties into the southern end of Green Bay). Hat tip to the NWS Green Bay for providing the information on which icebreaker was involved. Finally, a look to the southern portion of the overpass: the Mississippi River, between the states of Louisiana and Mississippi. The Landsat satellites fly over the same portion of the Earth every 17 days, so taking advantage of this fact we can visualize the profound changes in the southern Mississippi River due to the flow of large amounts of water resulting from heavy rainfall farther to the north — over the Middle Mississippi River and Ohio River Valley regions — during December 2015 (as discussed in this blog post). Water appears as darker shades of blue in these particular Landsat RGB images, aiding in the identification of areas where flooding is occurring.
A comparison of Aqua MODIS true-color (created using bands 1/4/3) and false-color (created using bands 7/2/1) RGB images on 02 January (below) demonstrated the advantage of the false-color imagery for detection of the extent of river and lake flooding. The high sediment content of the area lakes and rivers made them appear as varying shades of tan to brown on the true-color image, making their boundaries more difficult to distinguish from the similar shades of the surrounding bare ground surfaces. (Note: when GOES-R is launched in late 2016, similar spectral bands on the ABI instrument will allow the creation of these types of true-color and false-color RGB images)A more detailed view of flooding across the eastern portion of the MODIS images (in southern Indiana and northern Kentucky) was provided by 30-meter resolution Landsat-8 false-color imagery, as visualized using RealEarth (below). A magnified view of the Evansville, Indiana / Owensboro, Kentucky area can be seen here. Maps of total observed precipitation and departure from normal (below) during the same 14-day period as the 2 MODIS false-color images shown at the top of the blog post revealed that widespread areas received upwards of 8-10 inches of rainfall, which was 6-8 inches above normal for that 2-week period of time. As a result of water runoff from the heavy precipitation, new records for maximum river gauge height were set for the Mississippi River at Cape Girardeau, Missouri and Thebes, Illinois (below). Additional information is available from the NWS Paducah.
As happened in 2011, an algae bloom is ongoing over Lake Erie. The current bloom has contaminated at least one water intake for Toledo, Ohio’s municipal water supply with microcystin, a cyanobacter that when ingested can damage the liver and nauseate people. (There is also significant danger to pets). A series of true-color images (from 4 July, 1 August and 4 August) taken from the MODIS Today website, above, (combining visible channels at 0.6465 µm [red], 0.5537 µm [green] and 0.4656 µm [blue]) shows changes in the water color over the past month. (Image Source: MODIS Today) Some changes are apparent over western Lake Erie that are associated with the toxic bloom.
The algal growth is more readily apparent in the false-color imagery below. This red/green/blue image is constructed with 2.1143 µm imagery as ‘red’, 0.8567 µm imagery as ‘green’ and 0.6465 µm imagery as ‘blue’. The animation including scenes from 4 July, 1 August and 4 August shows dramatic growth between 1 and 4 August. Near-infrared channels — such as 0.8567 µm — are sensitive to energy reflected by algae.
A series of True-Color images for six days this Spring/Summer is here. The increase in algae in the western part of Lake Erie is apparent, but it seems that the outbreak this year is less wide-spread than the outbreak in October of 2011. A series of False-Color images is here.
[Update, 5 August 2014: Toledo’s water supply has been deemed safe to drink]