Pyrocumulonimbus clouds in British Columbia, Canada

August 12th, 2017 |

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images, with hourly surface reports plotted in yellow [click to play animation]

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm, top) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, bottom) images, with hourly surface reports plotted in yellow [click to play animation]

* GOES-16 data posted on this page are preliminary, non-operational and are undergoing testing*

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (above) along with “Red” Visible and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images (below) showed the formation of 3 pyrocumulonimbus( pyroCb) clouds late in the evening on 12 August 2017, within the cluster of ongoing intense wildfires in British Columbia, Canada.

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm) and Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images, with hourly surface reports plotted in yellow [click to play animation]

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm, top) and Infrared Window (10.3 µm, bottom) images, with hourly surface reports plotted in yellow [click to play animation]

A toggle between NOAA-18 AVHRR Visible (0.63 µm), Near-Infrared (0.86 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) and Longwave Infrared Window (10.8 µm) images is shown below. The coldest cloud-top IR brightness temperature was -70º C (associated with the northernmost pyroCb).

NOAA-18 Visible (0.63 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) and Longwave Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images, with surface station plots in yellow [click to enlarge]

NOAA-18 Visible (0.63 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) and Longwave Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images, with surface station plots in yellow [click to enlarge]

In a daytime Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) image (from RealEarth) with VIIRS-detected fire locations plotted in red (below), a very large pall of exceptionally-dense smoke from the BC fires could be seen drifting northward as far as the Northwest Territories of Canada.

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color image, with VIIRS-detected fire locations plotted in red [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color image, with VIIRS-detected fire locations plotted in red [click to enlarge]

The Suomi NPP OMPS Aerosol Index (AI) product (below; courtesy of Colin Seftor, SSAI) displayed AI values as high as 17.18 within the thick BC fire smoke pall.

Suomi NPP OMPS Aerosol Index [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP OMPS Aerosol Index [click to enlarge]

===== 13 August Update =====

Suomi NPP OMPS Aerosol Index product [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP OMPS Aerosol Index product [click to enlarge]

On 13 August, a maximum OMPS AI value of 39.91 was seen at around 21:13 UTC over the Northwest Territories of Canada (above) — according to Colin Seftor and Mike Fromm (NRL), this value surpassed the highest pyroCb-related AI value ever measured by TOMS or OMI (whose period of record began in 1979).

The north-northeastward transport of BC fire smoke — as well as a prominent increase in smoke from fires across northern Canada and the Prairies — was evident in an animation of daily composites of Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color images from 07-13 August (below).

Daily Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color image composites (07-13 August), with VIIRS-detected fire locations plotted in red [click to play animation]

Daily Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color image composites (07-13 August), with VIIRS-detected fire locations plotted in red [click to play animation]

Severe thunderstorms in the Northeast US

July 1st, 2017 |

* GOES-16 data posted on this page are preliminary, non-operational data and are undergoing testing *

As noted in the Tweet above from NWS Gray/Portland ME, a record number of tornado warnings were issued by that office on 01 July 2017. According to their damage surveys, the tornadoes were rated EF-0 to EF-1, with some straight-line wind damage also seen. GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images with plots of SPC storm reports (below; also available as a 98-Mbyte animated GIF) displayed the overshooting tops and colder cloud-top infrared brightness temperatures associated with some of the thunderstorms. Note the significant offset between cloud-top features and storm reports — this is due to parallax from the large viewing angle of the GOES-16 satellite (which is positioned over the Equator at 105º West longitude).

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm, top) and Infrared Window (10.3 µm, bottom) images, with plots of SPC storm reports in red on Visible, and in black on Infrared [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm, top) and Infrared Window (10.3 µm, bottom) images, with plots of SPC storm reports in red on Visible, and in black on Infrared [click to play MP4 animation]

A comparison of Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images at 1744 UTC (below) showed the early stages of convective development in far southwestern Maine, in addition to well-developed thunderstorms in eastern New York (which would later move northeastward to produce a swath of heavy rainfall that caused flooding at some locations).

Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) and Infrared Window (11..45 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) and Infrared Window (11..45 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Thunderstorm development was fueled by high amounts of moisture that had moved into the Northeast US, as shown below by the Blended Total Precipitable Water product (values in the 40-50 mm or 1.6-2.0 inch range) and the Blended Total Precipitable Water Percent of Normal product (with values in excess of 200%).

Blended Total Precipitable Water product [click to enlarge]

Blended Total Precipitable Water product [click to enlarge]

Blended Total Precipitable Water Percent of Normal product [click to enlarge]

Blended Total Precipitable Water Percent of Normal product [click to enlarge]

The hourly evolution of moisture was depicted by the MIMIC Total Precipitable Water product (below).

MIMIC Total Precipitable Water product [click to play animation]

MIMIC Total Precipitable Water product [click to play animation]

Tropical Storm Bret

June 19th, 2017 |

GOES-16 “Veggie” Band (0.86 µm) animation of Tropical Storm Bret, 1545-2030 UTC on 19 June 2017 (Click to animate)

GOES-16 data posted on this page are preliminary, non-operational data and are undergoing testing.

The fast-moving tropical system in the southern Caribbean Sea has developed a closed circulation and has been named Bret.  Tropical Storm Bret, shown above in an animation of GOES-16 Near-Infrared (0.86 µm) imagery that highlights land/water contrasts (the Orinoco River in Venezuela and Caribbean Islands — some with cloud streamers in their lee — north of Venezuela stand out clearly), is forecast to remain very close to the South American coastline.  Such proximity to land will likely hinder development. Further, wind shear in the atmosphere over the storm is predicted to increase.

Bret is embedded within a ribbon of very moist air (associated with the ITCZ) that stretches from Africa to the northwest Caribbean, as shown in the animation below (taken from this site) that shows morphed microwave observations of total precipitable water.

Microwave estimates of Total Precipitable Water for the 24 hours ending 1900 UTC on 19 June 2017 (Click to enlarge)

For more information on Bret, refer to the National Hurricane Center and the CIMSS Tropical Cyclones sites (where you can also follow the future of the system emerging into the Gulf of Mexico).

Cold temperatures in Alaska

January 19th, 2017 |

NOAA-18 AVHRR Infrared Window (10.8 µm) image, with surface air temperatures and corresponding station identifications [click to enlarge]

NOAA-18 AVHRR Infrared Window (10.8 µm) image, with surface air temperatures and corresponding station identifications [click to enlarge]

A NOAA-18 AVHRR Infrared Window (10.8 µm) image (above) showed the signature of cold air (violet colors) settling into river valleys and other low-elevation terrain areas across the cloud-free interior of Alaska at 1916 UTC (10:16 am local time) on 18 January 2017. Note that there was a layer of clouds (warmer cyan colors) over much of the North Slope of Alaska; these clouds were acting to limit strong surface radiational cooling, with resulting surface air temperatures only as cold as the -20s F. This AVHRR image was about 1 hour before the low temperature at Fairbanks International Airport (PAFA) dropped to -51ºF (-46ºC) — the first low of -50ºF or colder at that location since 31 December 1999 (-53ºF). While these were certainly cold temperatures, in general most were several degrees warmer than the daily record lows for 18 January:

NOAA-18 AVHRR Infrared Window (10.8 µm) image centered on Bettles (PABT), with surface air temperatures and corresponding station identifications [click to enlarge]

NOAA-18 AVHRR Infrared Window (10.8 µm) image centered on Bettles (PABT), with surface air temperatures and corresponding station identifications [click to enlarge]

Closer views centered on Bettles (above) and on Tanana (below) further highlighted the influence of terrain on the pattern of surface infrared brightness temperatures.

NOAA-18 AVHRR Infrared Window (10.8 µm) image centered on Tanana (PATA), with surface air temperatures and corresponding station identifications [click to enlarge]

NOAA-18 AVHRR Infrared Window (10.8 µm) image centered on Tanana (PATA), with surface air temperatures and corresponding station identifications [click to enlarge]

A comparison of re-mapped 1-km resolution NOAA-18 and “4-km” resolution GOES-15 (GOES-West) Infrared Window imagery (below) demonstrated the spatial resolution advantage of “Low Earth Orbit” (Polar-orbiting) satellites over Geostationary satellites, especially for high-latitude regions such as Alaska. As this plot shows, the true spatial resolution of a “4-km” GOES-15 Infrared image pixel over the interior of Alaska — where that satellite’s viewing angle or “zenith angle” from the Equator is about 74 degrees — is actually closer to 16 km. For the “2-km” Infrared imagery that will be provided by the GOES-R series ABI instrument, the spatial resolution over the interior of Alaska will be closer to 8 km.

NOAA-18 vs GOES-15 Infrared Window images [click to enlarge]

NOAA-18 vs GOES-15 Infrared Window images [click to enlarge]

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NOAA-19 AVHRR Infrared Window (10.8 µm) image, with surface air temperatures and corresponding station identifications [click to enlarge]

NOAA-19 AVHRR Infrared Window (10.8 µm) image, with surface air temperatures and corresponding station identifications [click to enlarge]

The cold continued across much of Alaska on 19 January, as seen on a NOAA-19 AVHRR Infrared Window (10.8 µm) image at 1519 UTC or 4:19 am local time (above). However with a lack of cloud cover over the central portion of the North Slope, surface air temperatures were much colder (in the -40s F) compared to the -20s F that were seen there on the previous day.

NOAA-19 AVHRR Infrared Window (10.8 µm) image centered on Bettles (PABT), with surface air temperatures and corresponding station identifications [click to enlarge

NOAA-19 AVHRR Infrared Window (10.8 µm) image centered on Bettles (PABT), with surface air temperatures and corresponding station identifications [click to enlarge]

As was shown on the previous day, closer views centered on Bettles (above) and on Tanana (below) further highlighted the influence of terrain on the pattern of surface infrared brightness temperatures. On this day a layer of clouds (highlighted by the warmer cyan colors) covered the far eastern portion of the Tanana image below — note that surface temperatures in the Fairbanks area beneath these clouds were only as cold as the -30s F. Farther to the west, which remained cloud-free, the minimum temperature at Tanana was -59ºF.

NOAA-19 AVHRR Infrared Window (10.8 µm) images centered on Tanana (PATA), with surface air temperatures and corresponding station identifications [click to enlarge]

NOAA-19 AVHRR Infrared Window (10.8 µm) images centered on Tanana (PATA), with surface air temperatures and corresponding station identifications [click to enlarge]

Time series plots of surface weather conditions at Fairbanks, Tanana and Bettles during the 18-19 January period are shown below. Note that the surface visibility was periodically restricted 1 statute mile or less, due to ice fog, at all 3 locations.

Surface weather conditions at Fairbanks [click to enlarge]

Surface weather conditions at Fairbanks [click to enlarge]

Surface weather conditions at Tanana [click to enlarge]

Surface weather conditions at Tanana [click to enlarge]

Surface weather conditions at Bettles [click to enlarge]

Surface weather conditions at Bettles [click to enlarge]