Antecedent Conditions for a Nor’easter

January 26th, 2015
GOES-13 Sounder Skin Temperature derived product image

GOES-13 Sounder Skin Temperature derived product image

Forecasts have been consistent in the past days for a storm of historic proportions over parts of southern New England. What conditions that are present now argue for the development of a strong winter storm? The image above is the GOES Sounder Land Surface Temperature (or “Skin Temperature”) product; cold air is present over southeastern Canada, with surface temperatures near -30 C, associated with a surface high pressure system. The high pressure will act to reinforce the cold air at the surface, preventing or delaying any changeover to liquid or mixed precipitation (a MODIS Land Surface Temperature product at 1500 UTC on 26 January similarly shows cold air banked over southern Canada).

GOES_SkinT_1400_26January2015

GOES Sounder estimate of Skin Temperature, 1400 UTC 26 January 2015 (Click to enlarge)

Winds over southern New England early on the 26th continued out of the north and northwest, maintaining cold air at the surface. The ASCAT (from METOP-A) imagery above shows brisk northwesterly winds south of southern New England just before 0100 UTC, with southwesterlies east of Georgia and South Carolina just before 0300 UTC. Those southwesterlies are helping moisten the atmosphere, and heavy snows require abundant moisture. MIMIC Total Precipitation (below; click image to play animation) testifies to the moistening that is occurring off the southeast coast as this system develops; the storm appeared to tap moisture from both the Gulf of Mexico and a pre-existing atmospheric river over the Atlantic Ocean.

[Added: The 1540 UTC ASCAT winds show the surface circulation east of Hatteras and the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay! Winds south of New England have shifted to northeasterly. The location of the circulation well off the coast suggests cold air can be maintained over land.]

MIMIC total Precipitable Water (click to play animation)

MIMIC total Precipitable Water (click to play animation)

Given that moisture and cold air are present, what features argue for the development of a strong storm? The GOES-13 water vapor images (below; click image to play animation; also available as an MP4 movie file) with cloud-to-ground lightning strikes superimposed show the potent system developing off the US East Coast and blossoming over the Gulf Stream as a secondary warm conveyor belt forms (a water vapor image with lightning animation from 25-26 January is available here). Strong sinking motion behind the system is indicated by the development of warm water vapor channel brightness temperatures (yellow color enhancement), and strong rising motion ahead of the system helps to generate widespread, strong convection. Convection also occurred over the Deep South late on 25 January in response to solar heating. The system depicted in the Water Vapor imagery is obviously quite vigorous.

GOES-13 6.5 µm water vapor channel images (click to play animation)

GOES-13 6.5 µm water vapor channel images (click to play animation)]

Suomi NPP VIIRS 11.45 µm IR channel and 0.64 µm visible channel images (below) showed that there was a great deal of convective banding within the secondary warm conveyor belt.

Suomi NPP VIIRS 11.45 µm IR channel and 0.64 µm channel images, with lightning, surface fronts and METAR reports

Suomi NPP VIIRS 11.45 µm IR channel and 0.64 µm channel images, with lightning, surface fronts and METAR reports

Total Column Ozone is frequently used as a proxy of tropopause folding; tropopause folds accompany very strong storm development and the vertical circulation associated with the potential vorticity anomaly (maximum) associated with the folding draws stratospheric ozone down into the troposphere. GOES Sounder Total Column Ozone derived product images (below; click to play animation; also available as an MP4 movie file) show that the dynamic tropopause — taken to be the pressure of the PV1.5 surface, red contours — descends below the 400-450 hPa level along the southern gradient of the higher ozone values (green to red color enhancement) as the potential vorticity anomaly pivots eastward along the Gulf Coast states and then northeastward toward the intensifying storm. The presence of clouds prevented ozone retrievals over many areas, but some ozone values over 400 Dobson Units (red color enhancement) could be seen, which is characteristic of stratospheric air.

GOES Sounder Total Column Ozone derived product images (click to play animation)

GOES Sounder Total Column Ozone derived product images (click to play animation)

As the storm approached New England, a MODIS 11.0 µmIR channel image (below) revealed the presence of widespread embedded convective elements within the broad cloud shied, with some cloud-top IR brightness temperatures as cold as -65ºC (darker red color enhancement). These pockets of convection could enhance snowfall rates once they moved inland.

MODIS 11.0 µm IR channel image, with lighting strikes, METAR surface reports, and fixed buoy reports

MODIS 11.0 µm IR channel image, with lighting strikes, METAR surface reports, and fixed buoy reports

An overlay of the RTMA surface winds (below) helped to locate the position of the surface low east of the Delmarva Peninsula. That position agrees well with ASCAT winds from 0158 UTC on 27 January.

MODIS 11.0 µm IR channel image, with RTMA surface winds

MODIS 11.0 µm IR channel image, with RTMA surface winds

A comparison of Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band (DNB) and 11.45 µm IR channel images at 06:39 UTC or 1:39 AM Eastern time is shown below. With illumination from the Moon in the Waxing Gibbous phase (at about 60% of Full), the DNB provided a “visible image at night” which showed the expansive offshore “comma cloud” of the storm, along with the locations of bright cloud illumination from dense lightning activity (note the bright lightning signature east of Cape Cod, which corresponded well with a cluster of positive cloud-to-ground lightning strokes). Numerous pockets of convective development were seen well off the coast of North and South Carolina, due to strong cold air advection over the warm waters of the Gulf Stream.

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band and 11.45 µm IR channel images (with cloud-to-ground lightning strikes)

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band and 11.45 µm IR channel images (with cloud-to-ground lightning strikes)

FY-2G sends its first image

January 22nd, 2015
FY-2G Color Composite Image from 0500 UTC 8 January 2015

FY-2G Color Composite Image from 0500 UTC 8 January 2015 (Click to enlarge)

The Chinese Meteorological Satellite FY-2G was launched on 31 December 2014 from Xichang Launch Center in Sichuan Province. It has achieved Geostationary Orbit at 99.5º E and its first full disk Color Composite image, above, from 8 January 2015, has been released.

For more information on FY-2G, click here. FY-2G is the eventual replacement for FY-2E at 105º E.

Super Typhoon Hagupit

December 4th, 2014
Advanced Dvorak Technique (ADT) intensity estimation plot

Advanced Dvorak Technique (ADT) intensity estimation plot

As seen on a plot of the Advanced Dvorak Technique (ADT) intensity estimation (above), Typhoon Hagupit underwent a period of rapid intensification in the West Pacific Ocean late in the day on 03 December 2014, reaching Super Typhoon (Category 5) intensity on 04 December. During this period of rapid intensification, COMS-1 10.8 µm IR channel images (below; click to play animation; also available as an MP4 movie file) showed the development of a well-defined eye, with very cold cloud-top IR brightness temperatures (in the -80 to -90º C range, shades of violet) in the surrounding eyewall region.

COMS-1 10.8 µm IR channel images (click to play animation)

COMS-1 10.8 µm IR channel images (click to play animation)

A nighttime comparison of Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band and 11.45 µm IR channel images at 15:50 UTC on 03 December (below; images courtesy of William Straka, SSEC) showed great detail in the cloud top IR brightness temperature patterns, as well as demonstrated the “visible image at night” capability of the Day/Night Band (which benefited from an abundance of reflected moonlight from a nearly-full Moon).

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm and 11.45 µm IR image comparison

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm and 11.45 µm IR image comparison

A longer-term sequence (beginning on 30 November) of storm-centered COMS-1 IR images is shown below (click image to play animation).

COMS-1 10.8 µm storm-centered IR images (click to play animation)

COMS-1 10.8 µm storm-centered IR images (click to play animation)

COMS-1 0.675 µm visible channel images from the CIMSS Tropical Cyclones site (below; click image to play animation) revealed the presence of mesovortices within the eye of Hagupit, with intricatecloud-top banding structures seen surrounding the eye.

COMS-1 0.675 µm visible channel images (click to play animation)

COMS-1 0.675 µm visible channel images (click to play animation)

A DMSP SSMIS 85 GHz microwave image at 22:43 UTC on 04 December (below) also showed the well-defined eyewall structure of the storm.

DMSP SSMIS 85 GHz microwave image

DMSP SSMIS 85 GHz microwave image

For additional images and information on Super Typhoon Hagupit, see the VISIT Meteorological Interpretation blog.

===== 06 December Update =====

A comparison of MTSAT 10.8 µm IR and TRMM TMI 85 GHz microwave images just after 16:30 UTC on 06 December (below) showed the center of Hagupit making landfall on the island of Samar in the Philippines as a Category 3 typhoon. The slow-moving tropical cyclone dropped as much as 300-400 mm (12-16 inches) of rainfall.

MTSAT 10.8 µm IR and TRMM TMI 85 GHz microwave images

MTSAT 10.8 µm IR and TRMM TMI 85 GHz microwave images

Flooding rains over the Chesapeake Basin

August 12th, 2014
MIMIC Total Precipitable Water for the 72 hours ending at 1800 UTC 12 August 2014 (click to enlarge)

MIMIC Total Precipitable Water for the 72 hours ending at 1800 UTC 12 August 2014 (click to enlarge)

Very heavy rain has fallen during the day on August 12th in and around Baltimore (with rainfall rates as high as 2.70″ per hour at KBWI) and Washington DC, with reports of up to 10″. Where has this moisture come from? There are a variety of products available to diagnose total precipitable water in the atmosphere. The animation above, taken from the MIMIC Total Precipitable Water page (link), shows an influx of tropical moisture from the south-southeast has surged northward up to the east coast of Maryland on August 12. A mesoanalysis from SPC also suggests a link to the moisture east and south of Cape Hatteras. The GOES Sounder Total Precipitable Water derived product image at 1800 UTC, below, (from this website) showed very high total precipitable water amounts just south of Baltimore and Washington DC with values exceeding 60 mm or 2.4″. Soundings at 1200 UTC also showed high values of precipitable water: 48.5 mm or 1.90″ at Wallops Island, VA, and 44.7 mm or 1.76″ at Washington Dulles. Finally, the Blended Total Precipitable Water Product from NESDIS showed values around 51 mm or 2″ as well. (Values did not quite reach the 200% of normal threshold, however).

GOES Sounder Total Precipitable Water derived product image at 18 UTC

GOES Sounder Total Precipitable Water derived product image at 18 UTC

The animation of GOES-13 Infrared (10.7 µm) imagery, below, suggests some training was occurring in the thunderstorm development: thunderstorms continually redeveloped and moved over the same region. Training thunderstorms in moisture-rich air is a recipe for flooding.

GOES-13 10.7 µm infrared imagery on 12 August 2014 (click to animate)

GOES-13 10.7 µm infrared imagery on 12 August 2014 (click to animate)

Comparisons of Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible channel and 11.45 µm IR channel images at 17:16 UTC and 18:54 UTC (below) showed that the convection exhibited cold cloud-top IR brightness temperatures (as cold as -77º C), and subtle shadowing on the visible imagery suggestive of overshooting tops. Using GOES-13 IR imagery,  the CIMSS/NASA Langley Automated Overshooting Tops / Thermal Couplets product displayed one distinct overshooting top (blue square symbol) over the Baltimore area at 18:45 UTC.

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible channel and 11.45 µm IR channel images at 17:16 UTC

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible channel and 11.45 µm IR channel images at 17:16 UTC

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible channel and 11.45 µm IR channel images at 18:54 UTC

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible channel and 11.45 µm IR channel images at 18:54 UTC