Unusual October Tornado in Wisconsin

October 7th, 2017 |

GOES-16 ABI Visible (0.64 µm) Imagery, 2042-2227 UTC on 7 October 2017 (Click to animate)

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

October is typically not a month when tornadoes are expected in Wisconsin. (And in fact, the month ranks fourth in the numbers of fewest tornadoes nationwide). Nevertheless, a brief tornado occurred on the east side of Madison WI late in the afternoon on 7 October (NWS Milwaukee/Sullivan). The visible animation, above, from GOES-16, shows a thin line of weak convection moving through the central part of the state. A slower animation centered on the reported time of the tornado (2200 UTC), is below. The dynamic state of the thunderstorm tops is apparent, and the 5-minute time-step may not be sufficient to resolve the small time-scale changes in the tornadic storm (the two GOES-16 Mesoscale sectors that provide 1-minute imagery were covering the pending landfall of Hurricane Nate at this time, and were giving severe weather support to Puerto Rico, radar-less in the wake of Hurricane Maria).

GOES-16 ABI Visible (0.64 µm) Imagery, 2152-2222 UTC on 7 October 2017 (Click to enlarge)

The Clean Window Channel, below, with the default AWIPS enhancement, shows little cloud-top structure.

GOES-16 ABI Infrared (10.3 µm) Imagery, 1917-2302 UTC on 7 October 2017, default enhancement (Click to animate)

Coldest cloud-top brightness temperatures with this event were in the -15º to -20º C range, and the default enhancement (with a range from -109º to 55º) showed little gradation in that range. By changing the coldest temperature in the enhancement from -109º C to -43º C, however, a structure in the cold clouds emerged, as shown below. Do not be afraid to change enhancements!

GOES-16 ABI Infrared (10.3 µm) Imagery, 1917-2302 UTC on 7 October 2017, adjusted enhancement (Click to animate)

The NOAA/CIMSS ProbSevere products for this event is shown below (from this site). ProbTor values were negligible; however, ProbWind values for the tornadic cell were around 20-24% leading up to the event. In addition, the cell that produced the tornado had the highest probabilities in the identified cells along the line of convection. The single exception occurred at 2235 UTC, after the severe weather event, when the cell to the north briefly (for only five minutes) showed Probabilities exceeding 40%.

NOAA/CIMSS ProbTor, 2130-2235 UTC on 7 October 2017 (Click to enlarge)


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The National Weather Service in Milwaukee/Sullivan WI determined that the tornado was an EF-0 based on a damage assessment. They provided radar imagery at the start of the tornado, during the tornado, at its end, and after dissipation.

NOAA/CIMSS ProbTor with a Severe Thunderstorm over Florida

April 6th, 2017 |

GOES-16 “Red” Band (0.64 µm) from 1222 through 1517 UTC on 6 April 2017 (Click to animate)

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

GOES-16 Visible Imagery early on 6 April 2017 showed a strong thunderstorm developing north of Lake Okeechobee and proceeding east towards the Atlantic Coast near Vero Beach (1-minute or 30-second imagery was not available over Florida because the GOES-16 Mesoscale Sectors were in their default locations; routine 5-minute CONUS imagery is shown above).

Clean Infrared  Window channel (10.33 µm) imagery from 1400-1500 UTC, taken from AWIPS, below, shows a well-developed albeit weakening storm that is moving off the coast. A pronounced Overshooting Top/Thermal Couplet is present at 1402 UTC; the brightness temperature of the overshoot is -77º C, and the downwind warm trench is -62º C.

GOES-16 Clean Infrared Window Band (10.3 µm) from 1402 through 1457 UTC on 6 April 2017 (Click to animate)

The NOAA/CIMSS ProbTor product was monitoring this storm as it moved eastward through central Florida. The animation below shows the cell strengthening rapidly after 1310 UTC, and maintaining large ProbTor values for about an hour, after which time values collapsed.

NOAA/CIMSS ProbTor product from 1256 through 1444 UTC on 6 April 2017 (Click to animate)

The time series below shows ProbTor as a function of time (1232-1444 UTC). The different parameters that are used in the computation of ProbTor are plotted as well. The times of the Severe Weather Warnings issued by the National Weather Service are drawn along the horizontal axis. The three wind events noted as vertical magenta lines (wind events taken from the Storm Prediction Center Storm Reports) occur within the envelope of highest ProbTor probabilities.

Plot of NOAA/CIMSS ProbTor values from 1232 through 1444 UTC on 6 April 2017. Vertical magenta lines are wind damage reports from SPC (Click to animate)

Note: NOAA/CIMSS ProbSevere Products — ProbHail, ProbWind, ProbTornado and the 2016 version of ProbSevere are all run using legacy GOES data (GOES-13 and GOES-15). GOES-16 data can be incorporated into this tool only after the statistical model has been trained on GOES-16 data, and that has not yet happened; A GOES-16 version is planned for the 2018 convective season.

With 16 Channels, the ABI on GOES-16 allows many different views of the same event. The animation below includes the 1/2-km resolution 0.64 µm “Red” Visible channel, the Snow/Ice channel (1.61 µm, 1-km resolution) that distinguished between clouds made of water droplets and clouds made of ice because ice strongly absorbs radiation at 1.61 µm and hence reflectances are smaller and the cloud appears less white, the Cirrus channel (1.378 µm, 2-km resolution) that highlights high clouds because radiation at the wavelength is very strongly absorbed by water vapor so reflectance from low-level clouds cannot escape to space before it is absorbed, and the Clean Infrared Window channel (10.33 µm, 2-km resolution) that affords a view that is least affected by water vapor absoption. In the animation below, the coastline does not become visible in the Cirrus channel because of strong absorption of radiation at that wavelength by water vapor. The Cirrus clouds in the 1.61 µm channel are considerably darker because of absorption by ice of radiation at that wavelength; a few water-based clouds do appear in the scene and are bright: 1.61 µm radiation is reflected quite well by water droplets.

GOES-16 “Red” Visible Band (0.64 µm), Snow/Ice Band (1.61 µm), Cirrus Band (1.378 µm) and Clean Infrared Window (10.33 µm) from 1222 through 1517 UTC on 6 April 2017 (Click to animate)

The GOES-R website has Quick Guide information on the Red Visible Band (0.64 µm), the Snow/Ice Band (1.61 µm), the Cirrus Band (1.378 µm) and the Clean Infrared Window Band  (10.33 µm) at this site.

Severe Weather over the southern United States

April 5th, 2017 |

GOES-16 “Red” Band (0.64 µm) from 1900 through 2100 UTC on 5 April 2017 (Click to animate)

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

On 5 April 2017, The Storm Prediction Center in Norman OK issued a Day 1 Convective Outlook that included Moderate and High Risk areas over much of the southeastern United States. Mesoscale discussion 442 and 448 on 5 April discuss the area shown above. One of two GOES-16 Mesoscale Sectors on 5 April viewed this scene, and a 2-hour animation spanning the outbreak of convection is shown above. It is difficult to predict which particular towering cumulus is going to grow into a cumulonimbus based on the visible imagery alone.

GOES-16 Low-Level Water Vapor Band (7.34 µm) from 2002 through 2127 UTC on 5 April 2017 (Click to animate)

Water Vapor Imagery from GOES-16 might help in that prediction. The animation above, from 2000 UTC to 2130 UTC, shows multiple subtle gradients in the low-level water vapor field that could be associated with impulses influencing convective initiation. Convection appears to form along those subtle gradients. The 16 channels on ABI offer far more information than legacy GOES.


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CIMSS Scientists have been refining the NOAA/CIMSS ProbSevere product to account for individual threats (Hail, Wind, Tornado), and a screen capture of that product is shown below. Radar Objects are outlined in colors that relate to the Probability of a severe event. These outlines allow a forecaster to determine which cell is potentially most threatening based on the inputs into the determination of probability.

NOAA/CIMSS ProbSevere for All Hazards at 2130 UTC on 5 April (click to enlarge)

At 2130 UTC, shown above, a cell over Tennessee has the highest ProbTor probability; the readout (below) shows the variables that are used in computing all the hazard probabilities — ProbHail, ProbWind, and ProbTor (Not all variables are used for all products; for example, ProbTor does not use Satellite-derived growth rates; ‘PS‘ in the output is the value of the 2016 version of ProbSevere). ProbTor of 70% for the cell over Tennessee (compared to smaller values at nearby cells) suggests that particular cell deserves special attention from anyone monitoring the cell for development. The ProbTor for the warned cell in Alabama — a cell that produced Tennis Ball-sized hail near Heflin , showed a ProbTor value at this time of 43% — a larger value than for the storms on either side of it — again suggestive that it should be of most concern. Ten minutes later, at 2140 UTC, ProbTor for the Tennessee storm had dropped to 34%, and that of the Alabama storm had increased to 55%.

ProbTor will be one of the CIMSS products demonstrated at the Hazardous Weather Testbed in June and July this year.

NOAA/CIMSS ProbSevere for All Hazards at 2130 UTC on 5 April; The readout for the indicated cell is shown (Click to enlarge)

Note: ProbSevere products are computed using legacy GOES imagery only. GOES-16 data can be incorporated into this tool only after the statistical model has been trained on GOES-16 data, and that has not yet happened; A GOES-16 version is planned for the 2018 convective season.

NOAA/CIMSS ProbSevere with a tornadic cell in Kansas/Oklahoma

April 26th, 2016 |
GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) Imagery, 26 April 2016. An orphan anvil is indicated by the Green Arrow at the start of the animation (click to play animation)

GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) Imagery, 26 April 2016. An orphan anvil is indicated by the Green Arrow at the start of the animation (click to play animation)

April 26 2016 was a day of well-anticipated severe weather (even a week out!) over the central and southern Plains, with a Moderate Risk of Severe Weather predicted for parts of Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. The GOES-14 visible animation, above, shows the development of strong thunderstorms in north-central Oklahoma that propagated into south central Kansas, producing hail around 2000 UTC. Note the presence of an orphan anvil just downstream of the developing convection (to the south of the Green Arrow) at the beginning of the GOES-14 SRSO-R animation (that unfortunately has a 15-minute data gap starting at 1900 UTC).

How did the NOAA/CIMSS ProbSevere product perform with this severe cell? ProbSevere provides a probabilistic estimate of whether a cell will produce severe weather within the next 60 minutes. The animation below shows the quick development of the radar feature that became the hail producer. The Satellite Growth of this particular storm was not observed to be strong. Moderate satellite growth and weak glaciation was diagnosed. However, ProbSevere values became very large because of the environment in which the cell developed, because of the presence of large MRMS MESH observations, and active lightning. ProbSevere exceeded a 50% threshold at 1912 UTC, 6 minutes before the Severe Thunderstorm Warning was issued.  The Table at the bottom shows the ProbSevere components as a function of time.

According to SPC storm reports, the cell produced a brief rope tornado at 2058 UTC in far southern Kansas. This storm was blogged about at the Hazardous Weather Testbed. Click here and here for blog posts on the environmental instability.

NOAA/CIMSS ProbSevere Output, 1824-1946 UTC on 26 April 2016 (click to play animation)

NOAA/CIMSS ProbSevere Output, 1824-1946 UTC on 26 April 2016 (click to play animation)

A zoomed-in animation of the Visible Imagery shows the orphan anvil developing around 1740 UTC. (A rocking animation is here).

GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) Imagery, 26 April 2016. The orphan anvil is indicated by the Cyan Arrows through the animation (click to play animation)

GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) Imagery, 26 April 2016. The orphan anvil is indicated by the Cyan Arrows through the animation (click to play animation)

 

Time (UTC) ProbSevere MUCAPE Env. Bulk Shear MRMS MESH (Inches) Satellite Growth Satellite Glaciation # Flashes
1854
1858 20% 4739 41.9 0.29 1.9% (Moderate) 0.02 (Weak) 0
1900 29% 4702 41.8 0.45 1.9% (Moderate) 0.02 (Weak) 0
1908 34% 4640 40.9 0.54 1.9% (Moderate) 0.02 (Weak) 5
1910 47% 4628 40.7 0.65 1.9% (Moderate) 0.02 (Weak) 13
1912 59% 4623 40.4 0.65 1.9% (Moderate) 0.02 (Weak) 24
1914 58% 4619 40.1 0.65 1.9% (Moderate) 0.02 (Weak) 24
1916 58% 4614 39.8 0.65 1.9% (Moderate) 0.02 (Weak) 24
1918 54% 4614 39.8 0.60 1.9% (Moderate) 0.02 (Weak) 24
1920 60% 4592 39.4 0.74 1.9% (Moderate) 0.02 (Weak) 20
1922 65% 4591 39.1 0.80 1.9% (Moderate) 0.02 (Weak) 20
1924 73% 4591 39.1 0.80 1.9% (Moderate) 0.02 (Weak) 25
1926 75% 4572 38.8 0.84 1.9% (Moderate) 0.02 (Weak) 26
1928 88% 4578 38.7 1.01 1.9% (Moderate) 0.02 (Weak) 31
1930 89% 4578 38.7 1.01 1.9% (Moderate) 0.02 (Weak) 36
1932 97% 4580 38.6 1.24 1.9% (Moderate) 0.02 (Weak) 49
1934 97% 4560 38.3 1.24 1.9% (Moderate) 0.02 (Weak) 58
1936 97% 4544 38.1 1.24 1.9% (Moderate) 0.02 (Weak) 58
1938 97% 4543 38.0 1.24 1.9% (Moderate) 0.02 (Weak) 58
1940 97% 4540 37.8 1.26 1.9% (Moderate) 0.02 (Weak) 58
1942 98% 4528 37.7 1.53 1.9% (Moderate) 0.02 (Weak) 56
1944 99% 4516 37.5 1.71 1.9% (Moderate) 0.02 (Weak) 56
1946 99% 4507 37.4 1.71 1.9% (Moderate) 0.02 (Weak) 56