Orographic standing wave cloud over the Mid-Atlantic states

December 17th, 2018 |

Topography + GOES-16 Low-level (7.3 µm), Mid-level (6.9 µm) and Upper-level (6.2 µm) Water Vapor images, with pilot reports of turbulence [click to play MP4 animation]

Topography + GOES-16 Low-level (7.3 µm), Mid-level (6.9 µm) and Upper-level (6.2 µm) Water Vapor images, with pilot reports of turbulence [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 (GOES-East) Low-level (7.3 µm), Mid-level (6.9 µm) and Upper-level (6.2 µm) Water Vapor images (above) showed the development of an orographic standing wave cloud — downwind of the Appalachian Mountains (topography) — over the Mid-Atlantic states on 17 December 2018. North of the wave cloud, widespread short-wavelength mountain waves were seen at lower elevations over and to the lee of the high terrain (even extending out over the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of New Jersey and New York). There were scattered pilot reports of turbulence across the region, with Severe turbulence being reported around 18 UTC and 00 UTC.

A comparison of GOES-16 Mid-level Water Vapor, Cloud Top Phase and Cloud Top Height products at 2007 UTC (below) indicated that this wave cloud was composed of Cirrus with maximum cloud tops around 30,000 feet.

GOES-16 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm), Cloud Top Phase and Cloud Top Height products [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm), Cloud Top Phase and Cloud Top Height products [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) image at 2102 UTC, showing the orientation of a nortwest-southeast cross section [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) image at 2102 UTC, showing the orientation of a northwest-southeast cross section [click to enlarge]

A GOES-16 Water Vapor image at 2102 UTC (above) showed the orientation of a northwest-to-southeast cross section of RUC40 model Relative Humidity, Wind Speed and Adiabatic Omega fields (below). In the middle of the cross section, a couplet of downward/upward motion aloft was seen over the Glen Allen VA area, with higher relative humidity values (shades of blue) above the 500 hPa pressure level corresponding to the wave cloud.

Northwest-southeast cross section of RUC40 model Relative Humidity, Wind Speed and Adiabatic Omega [click to enlarge]

Northwest-southeast cross section of RUC40 model Relative Humidity, Wind Speed and Adiabatic Omega [click to enlarge]

The standing wave cloud developed in the exit region of a branch of the polar jet stream that was diving southeastward across the Great Lakes — strong deceleration created an axis of deformation oriented from southwest to northeast (below), helping the stretch the wave cloud  feature as it slowly pivoted toward the southeast and along the coast. The strong downward motion component of the Omega couplet seen in the cross section was responsible for the relatively sharp upwind (northwest) edge exhibited by the wave cloud.

GOES-16 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images, with RAP40 model 250 hPa isotachs and deformation vectors [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images, with RAP40 model 250 hPa isotachs and deformation vectors [click to play animation | MP4]

A toggle between NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images viewed using RealEarth (below) provided a detailed view of the wave cloud at 1825 UTC. The coldest cloud-top infrared brightness temperatures were around -50ºC (bright yellow enhancement), which was just above the 300 hPa pressure level on 00 UTC soundings at Roanoke/Blacksburg and Wallops Island Virginia.

NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color RGB and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color RGB and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images [click to enlarge]

As pointed out by Jonathan Blaes (NWS Raleigh), these standing wave clouds can have an effect on surface temperatures beneath the feature:



A comparison of 1812 UTC Aqua MODIS Visible (0.65 µm), Infrared Window (11.0 µm), Near-Infrared “Cirrus” (1.37 µm) and Water Vapor (6.7 µm) images with plots of maximum temperatures on 17 December (below) revealed that high temperatures were confined to the upper 50s F beneath the wave cloud, in contrast to low 60s F on either side where incoming solar radiation was not diminished.

Aqua MODIS Visible (0.65 µm), Infrared Window (11.0 µm), Near-Infrared "Cirrus" (1.37 µm) and Water Vapor (6.7 µm) images, with plots of maximum temperatures on 17 December [click to enlarge]

Topography + Aqua MODIS Visible (0.65 µm), Infrared Window (11.0 µm), Near-Infrared “Cirrus” (1.37 µm) and Water Vapor (6.7 µm) images, with plots of maximum temperatures on 17 December [click to enlarge]

Southern US storm, and a Tehuano wind event

December 15th, 2018 |

GOES-16 Low-level Water Vapor (7.3 µm) images, 13-15 December [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 Low-level Water Vapor (7.3 µm) images, 13-15 December [click to play MP4 animation]

A large midlatitude cyclone moved from the southern High Plains to the Lower Mississippi Valley during the 13 December15 December 2018 period (surface analyses) — GOES-16 (GOES-East) Low-level Water Vapor (7.3 µm) images (above) showed the evolution of this system.

The corresponding GOES-16 Water Vapor images with plots of hourly surface wind gusts are shown below; peak wind gusts exceeding 50 knots occurred in parts of Colorado, New Mexico and Texas on 13 December.

GOES-16 Low-level Water Vapor (7.3 µm) images with hourly plots of surface wind gusts, 13-15 December [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 Low-level Water Vapor (7.3 µm) images with hourly plots of surface wind gusts in knots, 13-15 December [click to play MP4 animation]

This event was unusually windy in South Texas and the Rio Grande Valley:

Another notable aspect of this storm was a very localized area of heavy snowfall just south of Sweetwater, Texas:


The remnant patch of snow cover was evident in VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) and Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm) imagery on 14 and 15 December (below). The heaviest snowfall occurred over an isolated ridge along the eastern edge of the Edwards Plateau, where elevations of 2500-2600 feet were about 500 feet higher than the adjacent rolling plains. Since snow is a very effective absorber of energy at the 1.61 µm wavelength, it appeared dark on the Snow/Ice imagery.

Topography, Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) and Near-Infrared "Snow/Ice" (1.61 µm) images on 14 December [click to enlarge]

Topography plus Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) and Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm) images on 14 December [click to enlarge]

Topography plus NOAA-20 VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) and Near-Infrared "Snow/Ice" (1.61 µm) images on 15 December [click to enlarge]

Topography plus NOAA-20 VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) and Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm) images on 15 December [click to enlarge]

The residual snow cover on 14 December was also seen in Terra/Aqua MODIS True Color and False Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images, viewed using RealEarth (below). The snow appeared as shades of cyan in the False Color images.

Terra/Aqua MODIS True Color and False Color images on 14 December [click to enlarge]

Terra/Aqua MODIS True Color and False Color images on 14 December [click to enlarge]

A toggle between Terra MODIS True Color RGB images on the late morning of 14 and 15 December (below) demonstrated the amount of snow melt in 24 hours.

Terra MODIS True Color RGB images on 14 and 15 December [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS True Color RGB images on 14 and 15 December [click to enlarge]

The strong cold front associated with this storm moved rapidly southward across the western Gulf of Mexico on 14 December (surface analyses), crossing the terrain of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in southern Mexico and emerging into the Gulf of Tehuantepec as a gap wind (known as a Tehuano wind). A curved rope cloud marking the leading edge of the Tehuano winds was evident on GOES-17 and GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images (below).

* GOES-17 images shown here are preliminary and non-operational *

GOES-17 (left) and GOES-16 (right)

GOES-17 (left) and GOES-16 (right) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

A comparison of GOES-16 Visible imagery from 14 and 15 December (below) showed how far southwestward the gap winds spread out across the Pacific Ocean during those 2 days. Note that on 15 December there were ship reports with wind speeds of 50 knots, at 12 UTC and at 17 UTC.

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images with surface and ship reports, 14-15 December [click to play animation | MP4]

NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color RGB and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images on 14 and 15 December (below) also showed the progression of the Tehuano wind rope cloud — the hazy signature of dust-laden air within the offshore flow was also apparent on the daytime True Color images.

NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images on 14 and 15 December [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color RGB and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images on 14 and 15 December [click to enlarge]

Metop-A and Metop-B ASCAT surface scatterometer winds across the western Gulf of Mexico [click to enlarge]

Metop-A and Metop-B ASCAT surface scatterometer winds across the western Gulf of Mexico [click to enlarge]

On 14 December, a sequence of EUMETSAT Metop-A and Metop-B ASCAT surface scatterometer winds (source) showed the cold front moving southward across the western Gulf of Mexico (above), and also showed the northerly gap wind flow just beginning to emerge into the Gulf of Tehuantepec around 1607 UTC (below).

Metop-A and Metop-B ASCAT surface scatterometer winds across the southern Gulf of Mexico and the Gulf of Tehuantepec [click to enlarge]

Metop-A and Metop-B ASCAT surface scatterometer winds across the far southern Gulf of Mexico and the Gulf of Tehuantepec [click to enlarge]

The plume of dry air being transported southwestward across the Pacific Ocean by the gap winds was apparent on MIMIC Total Precipitable Water images (below). The majority of this dry air was within the surface-850 hPa layer (21 UTC comparison).

MIMIC Total Precipitable Water product (Total column, and Surface-850 hPa layer) [click to play animation]

MIMIC Total Precipitable Water product (Total column, and Surface-850 hPa layer) [click to play animation]

Mesoscale vortices in Oregon and Idaho

December 7th, 2018 |

* GOES-17 images shown here are preliminary and non-operational *

As noted by NWS Boise, a pair of mesoscale vortices were apparent over far southeastern Oregon and far southwestern Idaho on 07 December 2018. A comparison of GOES-17 and GOES-16 (GOES-East) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images (below) showed that even with the larger GOES-16 viewing angle (or satellite zenith angle), the features could still be seen rather well.

GOES-17 and GOES-16

GOES-17 and GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

Topography in feet [click to enlarge]

Topography in feet [click to enlarge]

A look at the local topography (above) indicated that the low altitude quasi-stationary Oregon vortex was located within the Owyhee River valley, just northeast of the Rome airport KREO. With high pressure centered over the Idaho/Montana border (surface analyses), the low-level southerly/southeasterly flow seen in a plot of 12 UTC rawinsonde data from Boise, Idaho (below) was being channeled between the higher terrain surrounding the valley; interactions with that terrain likely caused the Oregon vortex to form. The Idaho vortex was moving toward the northeast — Boise rawindsonde data showed southwest winds at 727 hPa or an altitude of 2700 feet. The 2 vortices wre quite small, having a diameter of only

12 UTC rawinsonde data from Boise, Idaho [click to enlarge]

12 UTC rawinsonde data from Boise, Idaho [click to enlarge]

The pair of vortices likely formed just before or right around sunrise, since there was no signature seen in earlier nighttime MODIS or VIIRS “Fog/stratus” infrared Brightness Temperature Difference (BTD) images {below).

MODIS and VIIRS

MODIS and VIIRS “Fog/stratus” infrared BTD images [click to enlarge]

Industrial and ship plumes in supercooled clouds

December 4th, 2018 |

MODIS and VIIRS

MODIS and VIIRS “Fog/stratus” BTD images [click to enlarge]

A sequence of nighttime MODIS and VIIRS “Fog/stratus” infrared Brightness Temperature Difference (BTD) images (above) revealed long plumes (darker shades of red) streaming southwestward for over 200 miles from their industrial point sources in the Mesabi Range of northeastern Minnesota on 03 December 2018.

During the subsequent daytime hours, a comparison of GOES-16 (GOES-East) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm), Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm), Near-Infrared “Cloud Particle Size” (2.24 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (below) showed signatures of these Mesabi Range plumes along with others emanating from industrial or power plant sources. A few ship tracks were also apparent across Lake Superior.

Particles emitted from the exhaust stacks at power plants and industrial sites (as well as ships) can act as efficient cloud condensation nuclei, which causes the formation of large numbers of supercooled water droplets having a smaller diameter than those found within the adjacent unperturbed supercooled clouds — and these smaller supercooled cloud droplets are better reflectors of incoming solar radiation, thereby appearing brighter in the Near-Infrared and warmer (darker gray) in the Shortwave Infrared images.

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm), Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm), Near-Infrared “Cloud Particle Size” (2.24 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

On the following night, another sequence of MODIS and VIIRS “Fog/stratus” infrared Brightness Temperature Difference (BTD) images (below) highlighted a number of industrial and power plant plumes across Minnesota, northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The curved shape of many of these plumes resulted from boundary layer winds shifting from northerly to westerly as the night progressed.

MODIS and VIIRS "Fog/stratus" BTD images [click to enlarge]

MODIS and VIIRS “Fog/stratus” BTD images [click to enlarge]

During the following daytime hours on 04 December, a comparison of VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm), Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images (below) showed 2 plume types across eastern Nebraska. There were several of the brighter/warmer plumes similar to those noted on the previous day across Minnesota/Wisconsin/Michigan — but one large plume originating from industrial sites just east of Norfolk (KOFK) had the effect of eroding the supercooled cloud deck via glaciation (initiated by the emission of particles that acted as efficient ice nuclei) and subsequent snowfall. This is similar to the process that creates aircraft “distrails” or “fall streak clouds” as documented here, here and here.

VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm), Near-Infrared

VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm), Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images [click to enlarge]


Farther to the east over Ohio and Pennsylvania, another example of the 2 plume types was seen (below) — one plume originating from an industrial site near Cleveland was glaciating/eroding the supercooled cloud and producing snowfall, while another bright/warm supercooled droplet plume was moving southeastward from a point source located west of Indiana County Airport KIDI.

The Cleveland plume was captured by an overpass of the Landsat-8 satellite, with a False Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) image viewed using RealEarth providing great detail with 30-meter resolution (below). A small “overshooting top” can even be seen above the industrial site southeast of Cleveland, with the swath of glaciated and eroding cloud extending downwind (to the southeast) from that point.

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

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

Coincidentally, Landsat-8 also captured another example of a glaciating cloud plume downwind of the Flint Hills Oil Refinery south of St. Paul, Minnesota on 03 December (below). The erosion/glaciation of supercooled cloud extended as far south as Albert Lea, Minnesota. Similar to the Cleveland example, a small “overshooting top” was seen directly over the plume point source.

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

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

===== 08 December Update =====

The effect of this industrial plume glaciating and eroding the supercooled water droplet clouds over northern Indiana was also seen in a comparison of Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm), Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm) and Infrared Window (11.0 µm) images (below).

Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm), Near-Infrared

Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm), Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm) and Infrared Window (11.0 µm) images [click to enlarge]

===== 09 December Update =====



During the following daytime hours, GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm), Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm), Near-Infrared “Cloud Particle Size” (2.24 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images (below) showed a number of plumes from industrial sites (many of which were likely refineries) streaming southeastward and eastward over the Gulf of Mexico on 09 December. Note the lack of a plume signature in the 10.3 µm imagery.
GOES-16 "Red" Visible (0.64 µm), Near-Infrared "Snow/Ice" (1.61 µm), Near-Infrared "Cloud Particle Size" (2.24 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) and "Clean" Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm), Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm), Near-Infrared “Cloud Particle Size” (2.24 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]