“Southerly surge” of stratus along the coast of California

April 22nd, 2013 |
GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel images (click image to play animation)

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

McIDAS images of GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel data (above; click image to play animation) revealed a well-defined “southerly surge” of stratus clouds, which were moving northward along the coast of the Big Sur region of central California on 22 April 2013.

AWIPS images of the GOES-R Marginal Visual Flight Rules (MVFR) product algorithm applied to GOES-15 data (below; click image to play animation) showed the northward progression of the narrow band of stratus clouds, as a mesoscale reversal in the boundary layer winds just off the coast (from northerly, to southerly) was seen in the buoy data.

GOES-15 Marginal Visual Flight Rules (MVFR) Probability product (click image to play animation)

GOES-15 Marginal Visual Flight Rules (MVFR) Probability product (click image to play animation)

A 1-km resolution MODIS 11-3.7 µm IR brightness temperature difference (BTD) “fog/stratus product” image at 05:34 UTC or 10:34 PM local time (below) showed the initial stages of the southerly surge stratus cloud feature, in the Santa Barbara Channel north of the Channel Islands off the coast of southern California (and south of Point Conception). Farther offshore, the BTD image also displayed a well-defined eddy and a few ship tracks embedded within the marine boundary layer stratus clouds.

MODIS IR brightness temperature difference

MODIS IR brightness temperature difference “fog/stratus product”

Several hours later, a 1-km resolution Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band (DNB) image at 09:56 UTC or 2:26 AM local time (below) indicated that the leading edge of the southerly surge stratus cloud feature had moved to the north of Point Conception. This demonstrates that the VIIRS DNB can provide a “visible image at night”, given sufficient illumination by the Moon (or other light sources). On this night the Moon was in the waxing gibbous phase, at 95% full.

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band image

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band image

A Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible channel image at 21:13 UTC or 2:13 PM local time (below) showed leading edge of the southward surge stratus feature as it was curving eastward into the Monterey Bay area. Not far to the north, San Francisco reached a record high temperature of 83º F.

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible channel image

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible channel image

===== 23 April Update =====

A comparison of 1-km resolution Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band and IR brightness temperature difference (BTD) “Fog/stratus product” images at 09:28 UTC or 2:29 AM local time (below) showed that the leading edge of the southerly surge stratus clouds had progressed just to the north of Point Reyes. Once again, the BTD image revealed the presence of cloud eddies and ship tracks within the marine boundary layer stratus clouds.

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band and IR brightness temperature difference

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band and IR brightness temperature difference “Fog/stratus product” images

 

Undular bore over Texas and the Gulf of Mexico

March 5th, 2013 |
MODIS IR brightness temperature difference

MODIS IR brightness temperature difference “fog/stratus product”, 3.7 µm shortwave IR, 11.0 µm IR window, and 6.7 µm water vapor channel images

A comparison of AWIPS images of MODIS 11.0-3.7 µm IR brightness temperature difference “fog/stratus product”, 3.7 µm shortwave IR, 11.0 µm IR window, and 6.7 µm water vapor channel images (above) showed the night-time (08:04 UTC or 3:04 AM local time) development of parallel cloud bands associated with an undular bore that was forming in advance of a strong cold frontal boundary which was  moving southward across Texas on 05 March 2013. Note how the cloud band features showed up with better clarity in the 3.7 µm IR image compared to the 11.0 µm IR image, since the shortwave IR channel is more sensitive to warmer temperatures (the IR brightness temperatures of the cloud bands averaged about +5º C).

After sunrise, the undular bore cloud bands coud be seen moving southeastward off the coast of Texas and across the adjacent offshore waters of the Gulf of Mexico on McIDAS images of GOES-13 0.63 µm visible channel data (below; click image to play animation).

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

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

As the leading edge of the bore passed through Corpus Christi, Texas (CRP on the GOES-13 visible images), surface observations (below) indicated that winds gusted to 38 knots or 44 mph at 12:27 UTC.

Corpus Christi surface observations

Corpus Christi surface observations

The 12 UTC morning rawinsonde data from Corpus Christi (below) revealed a very strong and deep boundary layer temperature inversion (with a top around 962 hPa or 2460 feet), which was acting to duct the undular bore as it propagated southeastward.

Corpus Christi, Texas rawinsonde data

Corpus Christi, Texas rawinsonde data

MODIS 0.65 µm visible channel image and MODIS Sea Surface Temperature product

MODIS 0.65 µm visible channel image and MODIS Sea Surface Temperature product

It is interesting to note that in the wake of the undular bore passage, there appeared to be a signal of Gulf of Mexico water wave activity in both the MODIS Sea Surface Temperature product (above) and the Suomi NPP VIIRS 11.45 µm IR channel image (below). On each corresponding visible channel image, a subtle wave signature could also be seen, but these waves did not appear to be cloud features. Could the strong winds of the bore passage have created wave swells which then acted to mix the water surface enough to allow a small amount of cold water upwelling?

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible channel and 11.45 µm IR channel images

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible channel and 11.45 µm IR channel images

Intense Eastern Pacific / Gulf of Alaska storm

April 2nd, 2012 |
GOES-15 6.5 µm water vapor channel images (click image to play animation)

GOES-15 6.5 µm water vapor channel images (click image to play animation)

McIDAS images of 4-km resolution GOES-15 6.5 µm water vapor channel data (above; click image to play animation) displayed the development of a classic “dry swirl” water vapor signature indicating the transition to an occluded cyclone during the 01 April – 02 April 2012 time period. The Ocean Prediction Center was forecasting large areas of hurricane force winds associated with this storm (00 UTC | 06 UTC | 12 UTC).

A sequence of AWIPS images of 1-km resolution MODIS 11.0 µm and POES AVHRR 12.0 µm IR channel data (below) showed a variery of small-scale banding structures during various stages of development of the storm.

MODIS 11.0 µm + POES AVHRR 12.0 µm IR channel images

MODIS 11.0 µm + POES AVHRR 12.0 µm IR channel images

The approach of a strong Potential Vorticity (PV) anomaly helped the storm to intensify rapidly, with with CRAS model fields indicating the tropopause (taken to be the pressure level of the PV1.5 surface) lowering to around the 900 millibar level by 06 UTC on 02 April (below).

GOES-15 6.5 µm water vapor images + CRAS model PV1.5 pressure

Although the storm was near the edge of the GOES-15 sounder scan, an image of the GOES-15 sounder Total Column Ozone product (below) showed that the PV anomaly was situated along a strong ozone gradient (which is often the case).

GOES-15 6.5 µm water vapor image + GOES-15 sounder Total Column Ozone product (with overlays of CRAS model PV1.5 pressure)

GOES-15 6.5 µm water vapor image + GOES-15 sounder Total Column Ozone product (with overlays of CRAS model PV1.5 pressure)

The MIMIC Total Precipitable Water (TPW) product (below) showed the storm tapped an area of moisture that was situated north of the Hawaiian Islands, eventually stretching this moisture into a thin filament along the storm’s cold frontal boundary.

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

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

Later in the day, an overpass of a EUMETSAT MetOp satellite provided ASCAT ocean surface winds over the large occluded storm as it was moving slowly off the coast of British Columbia, Canada. A comparison of 1-km resolution MODIS 0.65 µm visible channel and MODIS 11.0 µm IR channel images with an overlay of ASCAT wind vectors is shown below.

MODIS 0.65 µm visible channel and 11.0 µm IR channel images + MetOp ASCAT scatterometer surface winds

MODIS 0.65 µm visible channel and 11.0 µm IR channel images + MetOp ASCAT scatterometer surface winds

GOES-15 is operational once again

March 23rd, 2012 |
GOES-13 + GOES-15 6.5 µm water vapor channel images (with surface analyses and buoy reports)

GOES-13 + GOES-15 6.5 µm water vapor channel images (with surface analyses and buoy reports)

GOES-15 was restored to operational status mid-day on 23 March 2012 (after a satellite outage that began after 20:30 UTC on 21 March). Using AWIPS, a sequence of  GOES-13 6.5 µm water vapor channel images early in the day, followed by the return of GOES-15 6.5 µm water vapor channel images (above) showed the dramatic improvement in the appearance of features associated with a large mid-latitude cyclone over the East Pacific Ocean. This cyclone was producing Storm Force winds over the open waters of the Pacific, as well as Gale Force winds off the coasts of California and Oregon.

McIDAS images of GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel data (below) portrayed the large size of this storm system.

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

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

Shown below is an HD-format version of an animation of GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel images (courtesy of Tim Schmit, NOAA/ASPB/CIMSS).

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

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