Blowing dust in Texas and Oklahoma

January 21st, 2018 |

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Moisture” Infrared brightness temperature difference (10.3-12.3 µm) images, with hourly surface reports plotted in cyan [click to play animation]

Strong winds in the wake of a cold frontal passage created large areas of blowing dust across the Panhandle Plains of northwestern Texas after 16 UTC on 21 January 2018. GOES-16 “Moisture” or “split-window difference” (10.3 µm12.3 µm) images (above) showed that the leading edge of this airborne dust moved over far southwestern Oklahoma after 20 UTC. (Note to AWIPS users: the default enhancement for this GOES-16 “Moisture” Channel Difference product was changed to “Grid/lowrange enhanced” to better highlight the dust with shades of yellow)

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and Near-Infrared “Cirrus” (1.37 µm) images (below) also displayed blowing dust signatures; the surface visibility was restricted to 2-3 miles at some locations, with Big Spring briefly reporting only 1/4 mile. The dust signature was apparent on the Cirrus imagery because this spectral band can be used to detect any airborne particles that are effective scatterers of light (such as cirrus ice crystals, volcanic ash, dust/sand or haze).

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images, with hourly reports of surface weather plotted in red and surface visibility (miles) plotted in red [click to play animation]

GOES-16 Near-Infrared

GOES-16 Near-Infrared “Cirrus” (1.37 µm) images, with hourly reports of surface weather plotted in red and surface visibility (miles) plotted in red [click to play animation]

A Cirrus band is also available with the MODIS instrument on the Terra and Aqua satellites (as well as the VIIRS instrument on Suomi NPP and NOAA-20) — a comparison of Visible (0.65 µm), Cirrus (1.37 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.7 µm) and Infrared Window (11.0 µm) images from Terra and Aqua (below) highlighted the differing appearance of the blowing dust features as sensed by each of those spectral bands. The airborne dust exhibited a darker signature in the Shortwave Infrared images since the small dust particles were efficient reflectors of incoming solar radiation, thus appearing warmer at 3.7 µm.

Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm), Cirrus (1.37 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.7 µm) and Infrared Window (11.0 µm) images, with surface reports plotted in cyan [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm), Cirrus (1.37 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.7 µm) and Infrared Window (11.0 µm) images, with surface reports plotted in cyan [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS Visible (0.65 µm), Cirrus (1.37 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.7 µm) and Infrared Window (11.0 µm) images, with surface reports plotted in cyan [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS Visible (0.65 µm), Cirrus (1.37 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.7 µm) and Infrared Window (11.0 µm) images, with surface reports plotted in cyan [click to enlarge]

Pilot reports within 20-45 minutes after the Terra overpass time (below) revealed Moderate to Severe turbulence at an elevation of 8000 feet, just southeast of the most dense dust plume feature (highlighted by the cooler, lighter gray infrared brightness temperatures) — this was likely due to strong wind shear in the vicinity of the rapidly-advancing cold front. Farther to the southwest, another pilot report indicated that the top of the blowing dust was at 7000 feet, with a flight-level visibility of 3 miles at 10,000 feet.

Terra MODIS Infrared Window (11.0 µm) image, with a pilot report of turbulence highlighted in red [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS Infrared Window (11.0 µm) image, with a pilot report of turbulence highlighted in red [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS Infrared Window (11.0 µm) image, with a pilot report of dust layer top and flight level visibility highlighted in red [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS Infrared Window (11.0 µm) image, with a pilot report of dust layer top and flight level visibility highlighted in red [click to enlarge]

Ice dam in Lake Erie

January 19th, 2018 |

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images, with hourly surface wind barbs plotted in yellow and wind gusts (knots) plotted in cyan [click to play animation]

Thanks to Dave Zaff (NWS Buffalo) for the email alerting us to an ice dam that had formed across the eastern portion of Lake Erie on 19 January 2018 — GOES-16 (GOES-East) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images (above) showed that the northeastward drift of ice floes was effectively being blocked by this ice dam feature.

A toggle between 250-meter resolution Terra MODIS True-color and False-color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images from the MODIS Today site (below) provided a more detailed view of the Lake Erie ice dam and upwind drift ice at 1615 UTC. Snow and ice appear as shades of cyan in the False-color image, in contrast to supercooled water droplet clouds which are shades of white.

Terra MODIS True-color and False-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS True-color and False-color RGB images; red arrows denote the location of the ice dam [click to enlarge]

The Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) image with an overlay of RTMA surface winds (below) showed the southwesterly flow across the long axis of the lake.

Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) image with surface METAR reports and RTMA surface winds [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) image with surface METAR reports and RTMA surface winds [click to enlarge]

A toggle between 1607 UTC Terra MODIS and 1757 UTC Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible images (below) showed the motion of the lake drift ice during that time period.

Terra MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible images, with METAR surface reports [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible images, with METAR surface reports [click to enlarge]

Severe turbulence over Hawai’i

January 12th, 2018 |

GOES-15 Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images, with hourly pilot reports of turbulence [click to play animation]

GOES-15 Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images, with hourly pilot reports of turbulence [click to play animation]

Numerous pilot reports of moderate to severe turbulence were received over the Hawai’i area on 12 January 2018 — and GOES-15 (GOES-West) Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images (above; also available as an MP4) showed the development of a quasi-stationary gravity wave train over the northwestern portion of the island chain which appeared to be associated with many of these pilot reports.

HNL UA /OV 2115N16010W/TM 2241/FL320/TP B767/TB CONT MOD TURB

HNL UUA /OV 2115N16048W/TM 2255/FL340/TP H/B747/TB MOD-SEV TURB

HNL UUA /OV BOARD/TM 2350/FL370/TP H/B772/TB SEVERE TURB

PHNL UUA /OV 2443N 15516W /TM 2358 /FL370 /TP B737 /TB SEV 370 /RM ZOA CWSU AWC-WEB

In spite of the large satellite viewing angle, these waves were also very evident on Himawari-8 Lower-level (7.3 µm), Mid-level (6.9 µm) and Upper-level (6.2 µm) Water Vapor images (below; also available as an MP4). The 3 Water Vapor bands on the Himawari AHI are nearly identical to the 3 Water Vapor bands on the GOES-R series ABI.

Himawari-8 Low-level (7.3 µm, left), Mid-level (6.9 µm, center) and 6.2 µm, right) Water Vapor images, with hourly pilot reports of turbulence [click to play animation]

Himawari-8 Low-level (7.3 µm, left), Mid-level (6.9 µm, center) and Upper-level (6.2 µm, right) Water Vapor images, with hourly pilot reports of turbulence [click to play animation]

A toggle between 1-km resolution Terra MODIS Water Vapor (6.7 µm), Infrared Window (11.0 µm) and 250-meter resolution true-color Red-Green-Blue RGB images at 2106 UTC on 12 January (below) showed that no high-altitude clouds were associated with the gravity wave features — thus, these aircraft encounters were examples of Clear Air Turbulence (CAT).

Terra MODIS Water Vapor (6.7 µm) and True-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS Water Vapor (6.7 µm), Infrared Window (11.0 µm) and true-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

A color-enhanced version of the Aqua MODIS Water Vapor (6.7 µm) image at 0014 UTC on 13 January is shown below (courtesy of Jordan Gerth, CIMSS).

An AWIPS screen capture (below, courtesy of Robert Bohlin, NWS Honolulu and Jordan Gerth, CIMSS) displays a High Pass filter product along with the 3 individual Himawari-8 Water Vapor band images at 0120 UTC on 13 January.

Upper-level Water Vapor (6.2 µm, upper right), Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm, lower left) and Lower-level Water Vapor (7.3 µm, lower right) images [click to enlarge]

Himawari-8 High Pass filter product (6.9 µm, upper left), Upper-level Water Vapor (6.2 µm, upper right), Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm, lower left) and Lower-level Water Vapor (7.3 µm, lower right) images [click to enlarge]

It bears mention that the rawinsonde data from Lihue, Hawai’i at 0000 UTC on 13 January (below) indicated significant wind shear (both speed and directional) within the 200-300 hPa layer (text listing) — the layer in which many of the turbulence reports were found.

Rawinsonde data from Lihue, Hawai'i at 00 UTC on 13 January [click to enlarge]

Rawinsonde data from Lihue, Hawai’i at 00 UTC on 13 January [click to enlarge]

The packet of gravity waves was directly over Lihue (red asterisk) at that time (below).

GOES-15 Water Vapor (6.5 µm) image at 0000 UTC on 13 January, with pilot reports of turbulence plotted. The red asterisk denotes the location of Lihue [click to enlarge]

GOES-15 Water Vapor (6.5 µm) image at 0000 UTC on 13 January, with pilot reports of turbulence plotted. The red asterisk denotes the location of Lihue [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).