Flooding in Southern California

January 9th, 2018 |

1-minute GOES-16 Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images; with hourly reports of surface weather type plotted in yellow [click to play MP4 animation]

1-minute GOES-16 Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images; with hourly reports of surface weather type plotted in red [click to play MP4 animation]

An onshore flow of moisture (MIMIC TPW) in tandem with forcing for ascent with the approach of an upper-level low and a surface cold/occluded front brought heavy rainfall and some higher-elevation snowfall (NWS LOX/SGX | WPC) to much of Southern California on 09 January 2018. To help monitor the event, a GOES-16 (GOES-East) Mesoscale Sector was positioned over the region, providing images at 1-minute intervals. “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images (above) showed the colder clouds associated with periods of moderate to heavy rainfall. Some of this precipitation fell over burn scar areas from wildfires that occurred in December 2017 — including the Thomas fire, which was the largest on record for the state of California — resulting in numerous mud/debris slides that caused at least 17 fatalities, destroyed/damaged hundreds of homes, and closed many streets and highways.

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images (below) showed some of the features which helped produce heavier rainfall and snowfall during the daylight hours on 09 January.

1-minute GOES-16

1-minute GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images; with hourly reports of surface weather type plotted in red [click to play MP4 animation]

The circulation of the upper-level low was easily seen on GOES-16 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images (below).

1-minute GOES-16 Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images; with hourly reports of surface weather type plotted in red [click to play MP4 animation]

1-minute GOES-16 Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images; with hourly reports of surface weather type plotted in red [click to play MP4 animation]

===== 10 January Update =====

Suomi NPP VIIRS True-color and False-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS True-color and False-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

On the following day, a toggle between Suomi NPP VIIRS True-color and False-color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images from RealEarth (above) showed (1) the large burn scar from the Thomas Fire (shades of reddish-brown), and (2) snow cover in the higher terrain (darker shades of cyan) on the False-color image. The True-color image revealed sediment from runoff flowing into the nearshore waters from Santa Barbara to Oxnard (shades of brown to light green).

A closer look at the Thomas Fire burn scar was provided by 30-meter resolution Landsat-8 False-color RGB imagery (below), which showed thin filaments of muddy sediment just offshore, as well as fresh snow cover (shades of cyan) along or immediately adjacent to the northeastern edge of the burn scar (in the Hines Peak area). On 10 January, the fire was listed as 92% contained (100% containment was declared on 12 January).

Landsat-8 False-color RGB image [click to enlarge]

Landsat-8 False-color RGB image [click to enlarge]

===== 11 January Update =====

Suomi NPP VIIRS True-color images on 10 January and 11 January [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS True-color images on 10 January and 11 January [click to enlarge]

A comparison of Suomi NPP VIIRS True-color RGB images on 10 January and 11 January (above) showed that sediment was flowing farther offshore from the Thomas Fire burn scar area.

Farther to the south, offshore sediment transport was also seen in the San Diego area (below).

Suomi NPP VIIRS True-color image on 11 January [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS True-color image on 11 January [click to enlarge]

Ice floes in Chesapeake Bay

January 7th, 2018 |

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

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

In the wake of the explosive cyclogenesis off the East Coast of the US on 04 January 2018, very cold air began to spread across much of the eastern half of the Lower 48 states. Focusing on the Hampton Roads area of southeastern Virginia, satellite imagery began to show the formation of ice in the rivers and bays. On 06 January, a 30-meter resolution Landsat-8 false-color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) image viewed using RealEarth (above) revealed some of this ice — in particular, long narrow ice floes (snow and ice appear as shades of cyan) that likely emerged from the Back River (northeast of Hampton) and were drifting northward and southward just off the coast of the Virginia Peninsula.

On the following day (07 January), 250-meter resolution Terra MODIS true-color and false-color RGB images from the MODIS Today site (below) showed that a larger V-shaped ice floe was located just southeast of the Peninsula, with its vertex pointed toward the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel (HRBT). Snow and ice also appear as shades of cyan in the MODIS false-color image.

Terra MODIS true-color and false-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS true-color and false-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

07 January also happened to be the last full day of imagery to be broadcast by the GOES-13 satellite — a comparison of 1-minute Mesoscale Sector GOES-16 (GOES-East) Visible (0.64 µm) and 15-30 minute interval GOES-13 Visible (0.63 µm) images (below) showed that the V-shaped ice floe continued to drift southwestward toward the HRBT. However, it was difficult to tell whether the ice feature made it over and past the tunnel; even with the improved GOES-16 Visible spatial resolution (0.5 km at satellite sub-point, compared to 1.0 km for GOES-13) and the 1-minute rapid image scans, the ice floe became harder to track during the afternoon hours before high clouds began to overspread the region.

"GOES-16

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm, left) and GOES-13 Visible (0.63 µm, right) images, with hourly surface air temperatures (ºF) plotted in yellow [click to play MP4 animation]

However, a close examination of Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color and false-color images at 1826 UTC (below) indicated that some of the ice had indeed moved westward past Fort Monroe (on the far southeastern tip of the Peninsula) and over/past the HRBT.

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

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

On the topic of cold temperatures in southeastern Virginia, a new daily record low of -3 ºF was set at Richmond on the morning of 07 January, and at Norfolk new daily record low and record low maximum temperatures were set (10 ºF and 23 ºF, respectively).

Aircraft hole punch and distrail cloud features over southern Lake Michigan

December 20th, 2017 |

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm, top) and Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm. bottom) images, with surface station identifiers plotted in yellow [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 (GOES-East) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm) images (above) revealed a number of aircraft “hole punch clouds” and cloud dissipation or “distrail” features drifting eastward across southern Lake Michigan and adjacent states on 20 December 2017. These cloud features were caused by aircraft that were either ascending or descending through a layer of cloud composed of supercooled water droplets — cooling from wake turbulence (reference) and/or particles from the jet engine exhaust acting as ice condensation nuclei cause the small supercooled water droplets to turn into larger ice crystals (many of which then often fall from the cloud layer, creating “fall streak holes“). The darker gray appearance of the hole punch clouds on 1.61 µm images confirms that the features were composed of ice crystals (since ice is a strong absorber of radiation at that wavelength).

A good example of a hole punch cloud adjacent to a longer distrail feature was seen over far southeastern Minnesota and the Minnesota/Wisconsin border, using 250-meter resolution Aqua MODIS true-color and false-color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images from the MODIS Today site (below). Glaciated (ice crystal) cloud features appeared as darker shades of cyan in the false-color image.

Aqua MODIS true-color and false-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS true-color and false-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

A very detailed view of a hole punch cloud over Lake Michigan was provided by 30-meter resolution Landsat-8 false-color imagery at 1635 UTC, viewed using RealEarth (below).

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

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

===== 21 December Update =====

Another example of numerous aircraft hole punch and distrail cloud features was seen on Terra MODIS true-color and false-color RGB images on 21 December. over northern Illinois and northern Indiana (below).

Terra MODIS true-color and false-color images [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS true-color and false-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

Lake effect and river effect clouds in northeastern Montana

November 4th, 2017 |

GOES-16 "Red" Visible (0.64 µm, top) and Near-Infrared "Snow/Ice" (1.61 µm, bottom) images, with hourly plots of surface observations [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 “Red”Visible (0.64 µm, top) and Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm, bottom) images, with hourly plots of surface observations [click to play MP4 animation]

* GOES-16 data posted on this page are preliminary, non-operational and are undergoing testing *

As arctic air began to spread eastward across Montana — where the coldest temperature in the US was -12ºF — behind an inverted trough (surface analyses) on 04 November 2017, GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm) images (above) revealed bands of “lake effect” (from Fort Peck Lake) and “river effect” (slightly upstream, from the Missouri River) clouds. On the Snow/Ice images, sow cover (and cold ice crystal clouds) appear as darker shades of gray, in contrast to supercooled water droplet clouds which are brighter white. Note that surface air temperatures at Glasgow (KGGW) and Jordan (KJDN) were generally in the 15 to 20ºF range.

A 1-km resolution Aqua (overpass times) MODIS Sea Surface Temperature product (below) indicated that SST values were still 50ºF and warmer (darker shades of green) in parts of Fort Peck Lake. Farther to the west, a deeper portion of the Missouri River exhibited SST values in the mid-40s F (cyan) — this area  was likely the source of the river-effect cloud features. The temperature difference between the surface air and the warmer lake/river water was therefore in the 30-35ºF range.

Aqua MODIS Sea Surface Temperature product [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS Sea Surface Temperature product [click to enlarge]

In a toggle between 250-meter resolution Terra (overpass times) MODIS true-color (Bands 1/4/3) and false-color (Bands 7/2/1)  Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images from the MODIS Today site (below), the false-color image helps to highlight the bands of supercooled water droplet river effect and lake effect clouds (brighter white) — snow cover (and high-altitude ice crystal clouds) appear as shades of cyan.

Terra MODIS true-color and false-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS true-color and false-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

A 30-meter resolution Lnndsat-8 false-color image (below) captured the dissipating remnants of the Missouri River cloud plume at 1800 UTC; a few cumulus cloud streets could also be seen over Fort Peck Lake, along the far eastern edge of the image swath.

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

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