Early-season winter storm in the Northern Plains

October 12th, 2019 |

GOES-16 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images, with hourly surface weather type plotted in red [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images, with hourly surface weather type plotted in red [click to play animation | MP4]

With the approach of an anomalously-deep 500 hPa low, an early-season winter storm produced very heavy snowfall and blizzard conditions across the Northern Plains — particularly in central/eastern North Dakota and southern Manitoba — during the 10 October12 October 2019 period. GOES-16 (GOES-East) Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images (above) showed the long duration of precipitation across that region. Text listings of snowfall totals and wind gusts are available from WPC, NWS Bismarck and NWS Grand Forks (more complete storm summaries: NWS Bismarck | NWS Grand Forks). The highest storm total snowfall amount in far southern Manitoba was 32 inches south of Morten (which reported a snow depth of 30 inches on the morning of 12 October), with 30 inches in central North Dakota at Harvey.

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images (below) displayed the storm during the daylight hours on 10/11/12 October.

GOES-16 "Red" Visible (0.64 µm) images on 10/11/12 October, with hourly precipitation type plotted in red [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images on 10/11/12 October, with hourly precipitation type plotted in red [click to play animation | MP4]

On 11 October, GOES-16 Visible images with an overlay of GLM Flash Extent Density (below) revealed intermittent clusters of lightning activity over northwestern Minnesota, northeastern North Dakota and southern Manitoba — while no surface stations explicitly reported a thunderstorm, NWS Grand Forks received calls from the public about thundersnow. The texture of cloud tops in the Visible imagery also supported the presence of embedded convective elements, which likely enhanced snowfall rates as they pivoted across that area. An animation of GOES-16 Visible imagery with plots of GLM Groups and surface weather type is available here.

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images, with an overlay of GLM Flash Extent Density [click to play animation | MP4]

Note that this lightning-producing convection was occurring near the leading edge of the cyclone’s mid-tropospheric dry slot, as seen in GOES-16 Water Vapor imagery (below).

GOES-16 "Red" Visible (0.64 µm, left) and Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm, right) images, with GLM Groups plotted in red [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm, left) and Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm, right) images, with GLM Groups plotted in red [click to play animation | MP4]

One important aspect of this storm was the formation of a trough of warm air aloft or trowal (SHyMet | Martin, 1998) as the surface low began to enter its occluded phase on 11 October — contours of Equivalent Potential Temperature along the 295 K isentropic surface (below) helped to diagnose the axis of the trowal as it curved cyclonically from southwestern Ontario to southern Manitoba and then southward over North Dakota.

GOES-16 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images, with 295 K equivalent potential temperature contours plotted in yellow and surface fronts plotted in red [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images, with 295 K Equivalent Potential Temperature contours plotted in yellow and surface fronts plotted in red [click to play animation | MP4]

A similar animation with contours of 295 K specific humidity (below) also displayed the orientation of a west-to-east cross section B-B’ (green) across northern Northern Minnesota and northern Minnesota.

GOES-16 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images, with 295 K Specific Humidity contours plotted in yellow and surface fronts plotted in red [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images, with 295 K Specific Humidity contours plotted in yellow and surface fronts plotted in red [click to play animation | MP4]

The Line B-B’ cross section at 16 UTC (with and without contours of Equivalent Potential Temperature) is shown below. Note the deep column of upward vertical velocity (highlighted by color shading of Omega) centered over Langdon, North Dakota — the moist trowal airstream can be seen sloping isentropically upward and westward behind the 3 g/kg Specific Humidity contour, as it approached the region of upward vertical motion. Langdon received 27 inches of snowfall; the prolonged southward passage of the trowal over North Dakota likely contributed to this accumulation.

Cross section of RAP40 model fields along Line B-B' at 16 UTC [click to enlarge]

Cross section of RAP40 model fields along Line B-B’ at 16 UTC [click to enlarge]

As the storm was gradually winding down on 12 October, its circulation exhibited a very broad middle-tropospheric signature on GOES-16 Water Vapor imagery (below).

GOES-16 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images, with surface frontal positions [click to play animation]

GOES-16 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images, with surface frontal positions [click to play animation | MP4]

===== 17 October Update =====

Aqua MODIS True Color and False Color RGB images [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS True Color and False Color RGB images [click to enlarge]

After the area had already experienced its wettest Fall season on record, additional rainfall and snowmelt from this winter storm exacerbated ongoing flooding problems. A comparison of 250-meter resolution Aqua MODIS True Color and False Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images (source) centered over northeastern North Dakota (above) revealed flooding along the Red River (which flows northward along the North Dakota / Minnesota border) — water appears as darker shades of blue in the False Color image.

A Suomi NPP VIIRS Flood Product depicting floodwater fractions in the Red River Valley north of Grand Forks ND (as visualized using RealEarth) is shown below.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Flood Product, depicting floodwater fractions in the Red River Valley north of Grand Forks, ND [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Flood Product, depicting floodwater fractions in the Red River Valley north of Grand Forks, ND [click to enlarge]

===== 18 October Update =====

GOES-16 Day Cloud Phase Distinction RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Day Cloud Phase Distinction RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

On 18 October — 1 week after the height of the historic blizzard — GOES-16 Day Cloud Phase Distinction RGB images showed snow cover (brighter shades of green) remaining in areas that received the highest snowfall accumulations (such as Morden MB 32″; Vang ND 29″; Olga ND 28″; Langdon ND 27″).

Smoke plumes from Saudi Arabian oil facilities

September 15th, 2019 |

VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) and Visible (0.64 µm) imagery from Suomi NPP and NOAA-20 [click to enlarge]

VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) and Visible (0.64 µm) images from Suomi NPP and NOAA-20 (courtesy of William Straka, CIMSS) [click to enlarge]

VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) and Visible (0.64 µm) imagery from Suomi NPP and NOAA-20 (above) revealed dark smoke plumes from oil refineries and other facilities damaged by drone strikes early in the day on 14 September 2019.

EUMETSAT Meteosat-8 Visible (0.8 µm) images (below) showed the south-southwestward transport of the smoke plumes. Thick smoke drifted over Al Ahsa (OEAH), and at one point restricted to 2.8 miles.

EUMETSAT Meteosat-8 Visible (0.8 µm) images, with hourly plots of surface reports [click to play animation | MP4]

EUMETSAT Meteosat-8 Visible (0.8 µm) images, with hourly plots of surface reports [click to play animation | MP4]

Before (13 September) and after (14-15 September) True Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images from Terra MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS as viewed using RealEarth are shown below.

True Color RGB images from Terra MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS, from 13-15 September [click to enlarge]

True Color RGB images from Terra MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS, from 13-15 September [click to enlarge]

A sequence of 3 VIIRS Day/Night Band images from Suomi NPP and NOAA-20 (below) showed nighttime views of the smoke plumes, illuminated by the Moon (which was in the Waning Gibbous phase, at 98% of Full).

VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) from Suomi NPP and NOAA-20 [click to enlarge]

VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) from Suomi NPP and NOAA-20 (courtesy of William Straka, CIMSS) [click to enlarge]

A Meteosat-8 Visible animation spanning portions of 14, 15 and 16 September is shown below.

EUMETSAT Meteosat-8 Visible (0.8 µm) images, with hourly plots of surface reports [click to play animation | MP4]

EUMETSAT Meteosat-8 Visible (0.8 µm) images with hourly plots of surface reports, 14-16 September [click to play animation | MP4]

===== 17 September Update =====

Landsat-8 False Color image [click to enlarge]

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

A 30-meter resolution Landsat-8 False Color RGB image (above) showed a number of smoke plumes from oil facility fires that continued to burn on 17 September.

Severe weather in Minnesota and Wisconsin

July 19th, 2019 |

GOES-16 "Red" Visible (0.64 µm) images, with SPC Storm Reports plotted in red [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images, with SPC Storm Reports plotted in red [click to play MP4 animation]

1-minute Mesoscale Domain Sector GOES-16 (GOES-East) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images (above) showed the development and propagation of a Mesoscale Convective System (MCS) that produced hail up to 3.0 inches in diameter in Minnesota and wind gusts to 84 mph and a few tornadoes in Wisconsin (SPC Storm Reports | NWS Twin Cities | MN DNR | NWS Green Bay) on 19 July 2019. Numerous overshooting tops and widespread storm-top gravity waves were evident in the imagery, along with a few Above-Anvil Cirrus Plume features extending northeastward from some of the overshooting tops around sunset. Also notable were the inflow feeder bands that were streaming northward into the southern flank of the MCS across Minnesota.

A comparison of GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.35 µm) images (below) revealed cloud-top infrared brightness temperatures as cold as -86ºC over northwestern Wisconsin.

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.35 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

As the MCS persisted into the subsequent nighttime hours, GOES-16 Infrared images (below) showed the large canopy of cold cloud tops, with infrared brightness temperatures of -80ºC or colder (violet pixels).  Some of the embedded storms exhibited well-defined Enhanced-V storm top signatures (for example, at 2219 UTC).

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.35 µm) images, with SPC Storm Reports plotted in cyan [click to play animation | MP4]

===== 22 July Update =====

Terra MODIS True Color RGB images, 11 July vs 22 July [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS True Color RGB images, 11 July vs 22 July [click to enlarge]

A comparison of Terra MODIS True Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images from 11 July and 22 July (above) showed the subtle NW-SE oriented swath of downed trees across northeastern Wisconsin. A 14 July vs 22 July comparison as viewed using RealEarth is shown below — the swath extended from approximately Pickerel to Mountain.

14 July and 22 July Terra MODIS True Color RGB images [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS True Color RGB images, 14 July vs 22 July [click to enlarge]

In 22 July Terra MODIS images displayed using AWIPS (below), the swath of downed trees was brighter (more reflective) in the Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm), warmer (darker shades of orange to red) in the Shortwave Infrared (3.7 µm) and Land Surface Temperature, and lighter shades of green in the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index.

Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm), Near-Infrared "Snow/Ice" (1.61 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.7 µm), Land Surface Temperature and Normalized Difference Vegetation Index images on 22 July [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm), Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.7 µm), Land Surface Temperature and Normalized Difference Vegetation Index images on 22 July [click to enlarge]

The swath of downed trees was also seen in GOES-16 Normalized Difference Vegetation Index images (below), showing up as a darker shade of green with that product’s default enhancement.

GOES-16 Normalized Difference Vegetation Index images [click to play animation]

GOES-16 Normalized Difference Vegetation Index images on 22 July [click to play animation]

Eruption of the Ubinas volcano in southern Peru

July 19th, 2019 |

GOES-16 Ash, SO2 and CIMSS Natural Color RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Ash, SO2 and CIMSS Natural Color RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

A sequence of GOES-16 (GOES-East) Ash, SO2 and CIMSS Natural Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images (above) showed the volcanic cloud following an eruption of Ubinas in southern Peru on 19 July 2019. The volcanic plume was rich in both ash and SO2.

A plot of surface data from La Paz, Bolivia (below) indicated that the visibility dropped to 3 miles around 16 UTC as the volcanic cloud was drifting over that area (located about 150 miles downwind of Ubinas).

Time series of surface data from La Paz, Bolivia [click to enlarge]

Time series of surface data from La Paz, Bolivia [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS Ash Probability, Ash Loading, Ash Height and Ash Effective Radius from the NOAA/CIMSS Volcanic Cloud Monitoring site (below) confirmed the high amounts of ash loading (of generally small ash particles) — with maximum radiometrically-retrieved Ash Height values in the 18-20 km range.

Terra MODIS Ash Probability, Ash Loading, Ash Height and Ash Effective Radius at 1440 UTC [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS Ash Probability, Ash Loading, Ash Height and Ash Effective Radius at 1440 UTC [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 retrieved Ash Height values (below) were in general agreement with those obtained using the higher-resolution MODIS data.

GOES-16 Ash Height images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Ash Height images [click to play animation | MP4]