Fog over Lake Superior

July 21st, 2014
GOES-13 0.63 µm visible channel images (click to play animation)

GOES-13 0.63 µm visible channel images (click to play animation)

The southerly flow of warm, moist air over the still-cold waters of Lake Superior on 21 July 2014 led to the formation of some interesting lake fog patterns, as seen in McIDAS images of GOES-13 0.63 µm visible channel data (above; click image to play animation; also available as an MP4 movie file). The images above are shown in their native GOES-13 satellite projection.

A similar animation of AWIPS images of re-mapped GOES-13 visible channel data with overlays of METAR surface reports and buoy reports (below; click image to play animation) showed that three of the northern Lake Superior buoys were reporting a water temperature of 38 to 39º F. As far north as Thunder Bay, Ontario (CYQT), air temperatures exceeded 90º F and the dew point exceeded 70º F.

GOES-13 0.63 µm visible images, with METAR and Buoy reports (click to play animation)

GOES-13 0.63 µm visible images, with METAR and Buoy reports (click to play animation)

A Terra MODIS Sea Surface Temperature (SST) product at 17:37 UTC (below) revealed that parts of the western half of Lake Superior exhibited SST values in the 40s F (cyan to blue color enhancement).

Terra MODIS Sea Surface Temperature product

Terra MODIS Sea Surface Temperature product

During the overnight hours preceding the images shown above, a Suomi NPP VIIRS IR brightness temperature difference “fog/stratus product” image at 07:43 UTC (below) showed a signal of widespread fog/stratus (yellow to red color enhancement) across much of the eastern half of Lake Superior.

Suomi NPP VIIRS IR brightness temperature difference

Suomi NPP VIIRS IR brightness temperature difference “fog/stratus product”

Great Lakes Water Temperatures: Cold!

July 10th, 2014
Suomi NPP VIIRS Sea Surface Temperature product over the Great Lakes, with bouy data, ~1900 UTC 10 July 2014

Suomi NPP VIIRS Sea Surface Temperature product over the Great Lakes, with bouy data, ~1900 UTC 10 July 2014

Favorable orbital geometry of the Suomi NPP satellite and mostly clear skies over the Great Lakes basin allowed for a nearly complete picture of Great Lakes water temperatures from VIIRS on 10 July (in fact, all Great Lakes were viewed on two successive orbits). As has been noted elsewhere, lake water temperatures are running significantly below normal: pockets of surface water in the 30s F (darker blue color enhancement) persist in Lakes Michigan and Lake Huron, and much of Lake Superior still has surface water temperatures in the 30s to near 40°F.

Over the Lake Michigan area, high pressure with light winds in tandem with the thermal contrast between the cold waters (closer view) and the rapidly-warming land surfaces led to the generation of a well-defined lake breeze, which could be seen on GOES-13 0.63 µm visible channel images (below; click image to play animation; also available as an MP4 movie file). Early in the animation, note the formation of a thin patch of fog/stratus over the area of colder waters in northern Lake Michigan, as southeasterly/southerly winds advected warmer air over the cold water (MODIS visible/SST image comparison). The haziness seen moving over the western portion of Lake Michigan at the end of the animation is smoke transported from wildfires in northwestern Canada (Terra MODIS AOD and trajectories)

GOES-13 0.63 µm visible channel images (click to play animation)

GOES-13 0.63 µm visible channel images (click to play animation)

Interesting wave features near Guadalupe Island

February 24th, 2014
GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel images (click to play animation)

GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel images (click to play animation)

Hat-tip to Matt Sitkowski and Carl Parker of The Weather Channel for the heads-up on some interesting wave features that could be seen in the vicinity of Guadalupe Island on McIDAS images of GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel data (above; click image to play animation) on 24 February 2014. Apparently a gravity wave had propagated northwestward through the region during the morning hours, perturbing the depth of the marine boundary layer (MBL) such that undulations in the MBL stratocumulus clouds were quite evident. In addition, an unusual “dry pulse” propagated outward from Guadalupe Island (located in the center of the images). These wave features eventually became hidden as layers of middle and high clouds overspread the area from the southwest.

AWIPS images of GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel data with overlays of Real-Time Mesoscale Analysis (RTMA) surface winds (below) showed that the surface flow was very light or even calm across much of the Guadalupe Island region during the time that the “dry pulse” was most evident on visible imagery.

GOES-15 0.63 µm visible images with RTMA surface winds

GOES-15 0.63 µm visible images with RTMA surface winds

Low-level “barrier jet” along the southeast coast of Greenland

December 29th, 2013
GOES-13 6.5 µm water vapor images with Metop ASCAT scatterometer winds and surface METARs and surface analyses (click to play animation)

GOES-13 6.5 µm water vapor images with Metop ASCAT scatterometer winds and surface METARs and surface analyses (click to play animation)

AWIPS images of GOES-13 6.5 µm water vapor channel data with available overpasses of Metop ASCAT surface scatterometer winds (above; click image to play animation) revealed the presence of a low-level “barrier jet” along the southeast coast of Greenland on 29 December 2013. Maximum ASCAT wind speeds were 58 knots at 12:16 UTC, 62 knots at 13:57 UTC, and 62 knots at 22:09 UTC. It is interesting to note that a secondary area of low pressure was seen rotating around the primary low, and appeared to be rapidly intensifying judging from the quick development of a “corkscrew” appearance on the water vapor imagery near the end of the animation. ASCAT winds along the northwestern periphery of this secondary low were as high as 53 knots at 22:09 UTC.

The cyclonic circulation around the quasi-stationary area of low pressure located east of Greenland encountered the abrupt rise in topography of the island (below), which caused an acceleration of the flow known as a “barrier jet”.

Topography of Greenland, with Metop ASCAT scatterometer winds and surface METAR reports and surface analysis

Topography of Greenland, with Metop ASCAT scatterometer winds and surface METAR reports and surface analysis