Localized heavy rainfall and flooding in south-central Wisconsin

June 15th, 2016 |

GOES-13 Infrared Window (10.7 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 (above) showed the development of several rounds of deep convection which moved over parts of southern Wisconsin during the 14 June15 June 2016 period; these storms were responsible for heavy rainfall at some locations (NWS Milwaukee summary). As mentioned in a WPC Mesoscale Precipitation Discussion, some of these storms were focused along the nose of a low-level jet that was helping to push a warm frontal boundary (surface analyses) through the region. Moisture was also abundant south of the warm front, with a total precipitable water value of 55.1 mm (2.17 inches) seen in rawinsonde data from Davenport IA.

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

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

A timely cloud-free overpass of the Landsat-8 satellite on the morning of 15 June provided a 30-meter resolution false-color image as viewed using RealEarth (above), which showed areas of flooding — water appears as darker shades of blue — in the Black Earth area of western Dane County in southern Wisconsin. A before/after comparison of Landsat-8 images processed using an equation to highlight water as blue (below, courtesy of Shane Hubbard, SSEC/CIMSS) revealed the areas of inundation due to the 14-15 June thunderstorms.

Landsat-8 derived water change, 30 May vs 15 June 2016 [click to enlarge]

Landsat-8 derived water change, 30 May vs 15 June 2016 [click to enlarge]

Aerial footage from a drone flight (below) showed vivid images of the flooding along Black Earth Creek.

YouTube video from drone flight near Black Earth, Wisconsin [click to play]

YouTube video from drone flight near Black Earth, Wisconsin [click to play]

Heavy Rainfall in Southeast Texas

May 27th, 2016 |

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

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

4-km resolution GOES-13 (GOES-East) Infrared Window (10.7 µm) images (above) showed the cold cloud tops associated with training and back-building thunderstorms that produced very heavy rainfall (along with some hail and damaging winds) in parts of Southeast Texas during the 26 May27 May 2016 period. The images are centered on Brenham, Texas (station identifies K11R), where over 19 inches of rainfall was reported in a 24-hour period (NWS Houston PNS). Note the presence of very cold cloud-top IR brightness temperatures of -80º C or colder (violet color enhancement).

During the overnight hours, a comparison of Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images at 0801 UTC or 3:01 am local time (below) revealed cloud-top gravity waves propagating northwestward away from the core of overshooting tops (which exhibited IR brightness temperatures as cold as -84º C) located just to the west of Brenham. Due to ample illumination from the Moon — which was in the Waning Gibbous phase, at 71% of Full — the “visible image at night” capability of the VIIRS Day/Night Band (DNB) was well-demonstrated. The bright white streaks seen on the DNB image are a signature of cloud-top illumination by intense lightning activity.

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

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

A time series plot of surface weather conditions at Brenham is shown below.

Time series plot of surface weather conditions at Brenham, Texas [click to enlarge]

Time series plot of surface weather conditions at Brenham, Texas [click to enlarge]

===== 28 May Update =====

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

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

A 30-meter resolution Landsat-8 false-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) image viewed using the RealEarth web map server (above) showed widespread areas of inundation (darker shades of blue) along the Brazos River and some of its tributaries, just to the east and north of Brenham, Texas.

 

Why 1-minute satellite data matters: Monitoring Fires

February 18th, 2016 |

GOES-14 0.63 µm Visible (top) and 3.9 µm Shortwave Infrared (bottom) images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-14 0.63 µm Visible (top) and 3.9 µm Shortwave Infrared (bottom) images [click to play MP4 animation]

Extensive wildfires (well-forecast by the Storm Prediction Center) occurred over the southern Plains on Thursday 18 February 2016, while GOES-14 was operating in SRSO-R mode. A comparison of 1-minute GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (above; also available as a large 112 Mbyte animated GIF) showed the broad areal coverage of smoke plumes and fire hot spots (dark black to yellow to red pixels) during the day over eastern Oklahoma.

GOES-14 0.63 µm Visible (left) and 3.9 µm Shortwave Infrared (right) images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-14 0.63 µm Visible (left) and 3.9 µm Shortwave Infrared (right) images [click to play MP4 animation]

Of particular interest was a rapidly-intensifying and fast-moving grass fire over northwestern Oklahoma, in Harper County just west-northwest of the town of Buffalo, which burned 17,280 acres (media report). Note the warm air temperatures as seen in the surface plots — the high of 90º F at Gage OK (KGAG, south of the fire) tied for the warmest February temperature on record at that site. A closer view of the Buffalo fire is shown above — county outlines are shown as dashed white lines, while US and State highways are plotted in violet (also available as a large 63 Mbyte animated GIF). The shortwave infrared images revealed the initial appearance of a color-enhanced fire hot spot (exhibiting an IR brightness temperature of 327.5 K) at 2045 UTC; three minutes later (at 2048 UTC), the IR brightness temperature had already increased to 341.2 K (red enhancement) which is the saturation temperature of the GOES-14 shortwave IR detectors. The hot spots could also be seen racing northeastward toward the Oklahoma/Kansas border, with the fire eventually crossing US Highway 183 (which runs south-to-north through Buffalo and across the Kansas border). The early detection and subsequent accurate tracking of such rapid fire intensification and propagation could only have been possible using 1-minute imagery.

The two plots below show GOES-14 pixel values of 3.9 µm IR brightness temperature at the initial Buffalo fire site (top plot, at 36:51º N, 99:48º W) and at a site just to the northeast (bottom plot, at 36:54º N, 99:43º W) through which the moving fire propagated. The blue line shows every value, nominally at 1-minute intervals. The red dots show points sampled every five minutes. Very small temporal scale changes in the fire cannot be captured with a 5-minute sampling interval.

GOES-14 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) Brightness Temperatures at 36:51:36º N, 99:48:27º W, 2040-2230 UTC on 18 February 2016 [click to enlarge]

GOES-14 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) Brightness Temperatures at 36:51:36º N, 99:48:27º W, 2040-2230 UTC on 18 February 2016 [click to enlarge]

GOES-14 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) Brightness Temperatures at 36:54:44º N, 99:43:22º W, 2115-2200 UTC on 18 February 2016 [click to enlarge]

GOES-14 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) Brightness Temperatures at 36:54:44º N, 99:43:22º W, 2115-2200 UTC on 18 February 2016 [click to enlarge]

 

GOES-15 (left), GOES-14 (center), and GOES-13 (right) 3.9 µm Shortwave Infrared images covering the initial period 2030-2100 UTC [click to play animation]

GOES-15 (left), GOES-14 (center), and GOES-13 (right) 3.9 µm Shortwave Infrared images covering the initial period 2030-2100 UTC [click to play animation]

For the Buffalo fire, a three-satellite comparison of Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images from GOES-15 (operational GOES-West), GOES-14, and GOES-13 (operational GOES-East) is shown for the initial 30-minute time period 2030-2100 UTC (above). The images are displayed in the native projection of each satellite. In terms of the first unambiguous fire hot spot detection (via a hot color-enhanced image pixel) during that initial period, it would appear from the image time stamps that both GOES-14 and GOES-13 detected the fire at 2045 UTC — however, because GOES-14 was scanning a much smaller sector, it did indeed scan the fire at 20:45 UTC (while GOES-13 scanned the fire at 2049 UTC, 4 minutes after its larger scan sector began in southern Canada). Also note that there were no GOES-15 images during that 30-minue period between 2030 and 2100 UTC, due to the satellite having to perform various “housekeeping” activities — so if a NWS forecast office AWIPS were localized to use GOES-15, initial fire detection would not have been posible until reception of the 2100 UTC image (which actually scanned the fire at 2104 UTC).

A faster animation covering a longer 2.5-hour period from 2030-2300 UTC is shown below. Again, a true sense of the fast northeastward speed of fire propagation could only be gained using 1-minute imagery.

GOES-15 (left), GOES-14 (center), and GOES-13 (right) 3.9 µm Shortwave Infrared images covering the 2.5-hour period 2030-2300 UTC [click to play animation]

GOES-15 (left), GOES-14 (center), and GOES-13 (right) 3.9 µm Shortwave Infrared images covering the 2.5 hour period 2030-2300 UTC [click to play animation]

GOES-14 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images [click to play animation]

GOES-14 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) 9mages [click to play animation]

The animation above shows another view of 1-minute GOES-14 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) imagery, centered over northeastern Oklahoma — in these images, the hottest fire pixels are darkest black. Time series of infrared brightness temperature values at two individual fire pixels (shown here) are plotted below. The Blue lines show the 1-minute data; Red dots show how 5-minute monitoring would have adequately captured the events. Pixel Brightness Temperature changes that occur on the order of 1 or 2 minutes are common, and peak values can be missed with 5-minute granularity.

GOES-14 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) Brightness Temperatures at, 2138-2301 UTC on 18 February 2016 at 35:31:17 N, 96:05:55 W [click to enlarge]

GOES-14 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) Brightness Temperatures from 2138-2301 UTC on 18 February 2016, at 35:31:17º N, 96:05:55º W [click to enlarge]

GOES-14 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) Brightness Temperatures at, 2138-2301 UTC on 18 February 2016 at 35:23:51 N, 95:20:52 W [click to enlarge]

GOES-14 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) Brightness Temperatures from 2138-2301 UTC on 18 February 2016, at 35:23:51º N, 95:20:52º W [click to enlarge]

In the GOES-R era, Fire Products will be produced every 5 minutes. Individual NWS Forecast Offices will be able to request Rapid-Scan Imagery (1-minute intervals) over a 1000 km x 1000 km mesoscale sector.

===== 19 February Update =====

Seen below are RealEarth comparisons of Aqua MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) images from the early afternoon of 18 February (before the Buffalo OK fire) and 19 February (after the Buffalo OK fire), which revealed the long southwest-to-northeast oriented burn scar. As seen on the GOES-14 animation above, the fire crossed US Highway 183 just to the north of Buffalo (that portion of the highway was closed for several hours).

Aqua MODIS true-color images on 18 February and 19 February [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS true-color images on 18 February and 19 February [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color images on 18 February and 19 February [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color images on 18 February and 19 February [click to enlarge]

In addition, a comparison of Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color and false-color images (below) helps to discriminate between the darker burn scar and the cloud shadows seen on the true-color image — the Buffalo fire burn scar appears as varying shades of brown in both the true-color and the false-color images.

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

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

===== 27 February Update =====

Landsat-8 false-color RGB images on 18 February (a few hours prior to the start of the fire) and 27 February (several says after the fire) [click to enlarge]

Landsat-8 false-color RGB images on 18 February (a few hours prior to the start of the fire) and 27 February (several says after the fire) [click to enlarge]

A comparison of 30-meter resolution Landsat-8 false-color (created using OLI bands 6/5/4) RGB images from 18 February (about 3.5 hours prior to the start of the Buffalo OK fire) and 27 February (several days after the fire) provided a very detailed view of the burn scar. Note that a few green fields remained within the burn scar, and also appeared to prevent the spread of the fire along portions of its perimeter — this is a result of the vast difference between the very low moisture content of the dry grassland (which burned quickly and easily) and the high moisture content of the well-irrigated fields of winter wheat, alfalfa, and canola crops.

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.