When Atmospheric Bores cause Severe Weather

June 1st, 2019 |

RadarScope imagery from shortly after 0900 UTC on 01 June 2019 (Click to play .mov animation)

Strong near-surface inversions over the upper-midwest early on 1 June 2019 (as shown by 1200 UTC Skew-Ts at Green Bay, WI, Detroit/WhiteLake, MI and Gaylord, MI) helped support the presence of southward-propagating bore features, as shown in the still image (an animation) of radar imagery above (Courtesy Fred Best, SSEC), and (more subtly) in the water vapor imagery (Courtesy Scott Bachmeier) below.

The pressure sensor at the top of the Atmospheric Oceanic and Space Science Building showed many small time-scale pressure perturbations on this day. (Image courtesy Pete Pokrandt)

Water Vapor Imagery from to on 1 June 2019; Low-level (GOES-16 ABI Band 10, 7.34 µm) on the left ; mid-level (GOES-16 ABI Band 9, 6.95 µm) in the center; upper-level (GOES-16 ABI Band 8, 6.19 µm) on the right


Later in the day, strong convection developed over southwestern Lower Michigan, starting shortly after 2215 UTC.  The visible imagery below shows 1-minute imagery (GOES-16 ABI Band 2, 0.64 µm) from a Mesoscale sector positioned over the convection.  At the start, the parallel lines of low clouds suggest a bore feature is propagating southward towards strong convection over northern Indiana and northern Ohio.  Two things happen when that feature meets the convective outflow: some energy is apparently reflected to the north, but very strong convection rapidly develops near Battle Creek MI, where 2″ hail was observed at 2235 UTC (SPC Storm Reports).

GOES-16 ABI 1-minute Visible (0.64 µm) imagery, 2115-2149 UTC on 1 June 2019 (Click to play animated gif)

The clean window (GOES 16 ABI Band 13, 10.3 µm) animation during the day, below, show many features suggesting bore/gravity wave propagation over the area. It is challenging to pick out the impulse from this animation that lead to the severe convection that hit Battle Creek.

GOES-16 ABI Infrared (10.3 µm, Band 13 “Clean Window”) imagery, 1001-2331 UTC on 1 June 2019 (Click to play animated gif)

The Low-Level water vapor animation, shown below, also shows many features that resemble gravity waves or bores, but it also shows a line of parallel features moving towards the site of convective initiation (Consider this short loop from 2126 to 2156 UTC, for example).

GOES-16 ABI Water Vapor (7.3 µm, Band 10 “Low-Level Water Vapor”) infrared imagery, 1001-2331 UTC on 1 June 2019 (Click to play animated gif)

For convection to initiate, instability should be present. The graphic below from the Storm Prediction Center mesoanalysis website shows a nose of unstable air (represented by high values of CAPE) encroaching into southwestern Lower Michigan.

SPC CAPE analysis, 2100 UTC on 1 June 2019 (Click to enlarge)

GOES-16 Baseline Products can also diagnose instability. On 1 June 2019, however, abundant cloudiness limited the utility of the Baseline clear-sky only products, but AllSky versions have been developed and are available online at this website. The animation below shows the evolution of the AllSky Lifted Index from 1826 through 2356 UTC on 1 June 2019. In agreement with the SPC analysis, the AllSky product shows a nose of instability pushing into southwestern lower Michigan. An southward-propagating impulse (apparent in both visible and low-level water vapor imagery) meeting this gradient in instability did initiate convection on this day.

GOES-16 AllSky Lifted Index, half-hourly from 1826 UTC to 2356 UTC on 1 June 2019 (Click to play animated gif)

NOAA/CIMSS ProbSevere (v.2), a tool designed to give confidence that severe weather might occur in the next 60 minutes, shown below, tracked the rapid evolution of the storm. ProbHail increased from 7% at 2220 UTC to 81% at 2230 UTC!

NOAA/CIMSS ProbSevere, with readout values, from 2200 to 2236 UTC on 1 June 2019 (Click to play animated gif)

The chart below, from John Cintineo, SSEC/CIMSS, graphically shows the very rapid development of Prob Hail values. Much of the increase in ProbHail was driven by MESH and Total Lightning observations. When an impulse enters a region of instability in a good environment, explosive growth can result.

NOAA/CIMSS ProbSevere readout for Radar Object 411723 (the storm that produced Hail in Battle Creek MI on 1 June 2019) (Click to enlarge)

Many thanks to TJ Turnage, NWS Grand Rapids, for alerting us to this very interesting case.

Tornado outbreak in Iowa

July 19th, 2018 |

GOES-16 Upper-level Water Vapor (6.2 µm, top left), Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm, top right), Low-level Water Vapor (7.3 µm, bottom left) and

GOES-16 Upper-level Water Vapor (6.2 µm, top left), Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm, top right), Low-level Water Vapor (7.3 µm, bottom left) and “Red” Visible (0.64 µm, bottom right) images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 (GOES-East) Upper-level Water Vapor (6.2 µm), Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm), Low-level Water Vapor (7.3 µm) and “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images (above) revealed the well-defined signature of a mid-tropospheric lobe of vorticity moving from southeastern South Dakota across Iowa during the day on 19 July 2018 — this feature provided synoptic-scale forcing for ascent which aided in the development of severe thunderstorms in central and eastern Iowa. A number of tornadoes were reported, along with some large hail and damaging winds (SPC storm reports).

GOES-16

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

A closer look using 1-minute Mesoscale Domain Sector GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images (above) showed the line of thunderstorms as they developed in advance of an approaching cold/occluded front (surface analyses). Two larger storms were dominant, which produced tornadoes causing significant damage and injuries in Pella KPEA and Marshalltown KMIWabove-anvil cirrus plumes were evident with both of these supercells. In addition, early in the animation a few orphan anvils could be seen along the southern end of the line (southeast and east of Des Moines KDSM).

The corresponding GOES-16 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images (below) showed cloud-top infrared brightness temperatures of -65ºC to -70ºC with the larger Pella storm, and around -55ºC with the smaller Marshalltown storm to the north.

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images, with SPC storm reports plotted in red [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) image, with ProbSevere contour and parameters [click to enlarge]

The NOAA/CIMSS ProbSevere model (viewed using RealEarth) had a ProbTor value of 74% at 2055 UTC for the Pella storm (above) and 83% at 2130 UTC for the Marshalltown storm (below). GOES-derived Cloud-top glaciation rate (from infrared imagery) is one of the predictors used in the model.

GOES-16 Infrared image, with ProbSevere parameters [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) image, with ProbSevere contour and parameters [click to enlarge]

ProbSevere time series plots for the Pella and Marshalltown cells are shown below. They indicated that the Pella storm was long-lived, persisting past 0300 UTC — and that ProbTor ramped up quickly and then down quickly, bracketing the time of the tornado in Marshalltown.

NOAA/CIMSS ProbHail (Green), ProbWind (Blue) and ProbTor (Red) for the cell that produced the Pella IA tornado. [click to enlarge]

NOAA/CIMSS ProbHail (Green), ProbWind (Blue) and ProbTor (Red) for the cell that produced the Pella IA tornado [click to enlarge]

NOAA/CIMSS ProbHail (Green), ProbWind (Blue) and ProbTor (Red) for the cell that produced the Marshalltown IA tornado [click to enlarge]

A toggle between 375-meter resolution Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images at 1946 UTC (below) provided a look at the early stage of development of tornado-producing convection.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images, with plots of SPC tornado reports within +/- 30 minutes of the images [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images, with plots of SPC tornado reports within +/- 30 minutes of the images [click to enlarge]

Additional satellite imagery and analysis of this event can be found on the Satellite Liaison Blog.


Tornado in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania

June 14th, 2018 |

GOES-16 ABI Band 2 (Red Visible, 0.64 µm) over northeastern Pennsylvania. Luzerne County is outlined in Yellow, and Wilkes-Barre’s location is highlighted as a yellow box (Click to animate)

A confirmed tornado struck Wilkes-Barre in Luzerne County in northeastern Pennsylvania shortly after sunset on 13 June 2018 (at about 0215 UTC). Visible imagery, above, shows the line of thunderstorms approaching the region before sunset. This video, from Citizens Voice Reporter Nico Rossi, shows some of the damage.

NOAA/CIMSS ProbTor captured the tornadic cell very well (Click this link for a discussion that includes infrared satellite animations). Click here for real-time access to ProbTor.

1-minute Mesoscale Sector GOES-16 Band 13 (Clean Infrared Window, 10.3 µm) images with plots of SPC storm reports are shown below. The Wilkes-Barre PA tornado is plotted as a red T on the 0200 UTC image.

GOES-16 Band 13 (Clean Infrared Window, 10.3 µm) images, with SPC storm reports plotted in red [click to animate]

GOES-16 Band 13 (Clean Infrared Window, 10.3 µm) images, with SPC storm reports plotted in red [click to animate]

Below is a 1-km resolution Terra MODIS Band 31 (Infrared Window, 11.0 µm) image from shortly after the Luzerne County tornado, showing the line of convection that had developed in advance of a cold front. The 2 overlapping SPC storm reports (listed as damaging winds, with report times of 2008 and 2015 UTC) for the Wilkes-Barre event are in the center of the image. The minimum cloud-top infrared brightness temperature was -66ºC.

Terra MODIS Band 31 (Infrared Window, 11.0 µm) image, with plots of cumulative SPC storm reports and the 03 UTC position of the surface cold front [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS Band 31 (Infrared Window, 11.0 µm) image, with plots of cumulative SPC storm reports and the 03 UTC position of the surface cold front [click to enlarge]

Strong Thunderstorms move through Washington DC.

May 14th, 2018 |

GOES-16 ABI Channel 13 “Clean Window” (10.3 µm) at 1-minute time-steps from 1607-2359 UTC on 14 May 2018 (Click to animate)

A GOES-16 Mesoscale Sector produced 1-minute imagery as a strong thunderstorm complex approached Washington DC late in the afternoon/early evening of 14 May 2018.  The (150-megabyte (!!)) animated gif above shows overshooting tops quickly developing and decaying as the complex moved over the Potomac Basin.  Winds in excess of 60 knots were reported around the Washington DC metropolitan area, with widespread tree damage. (Smaller MP4 animations with plots of SPC storm reports are also available: Infrared | Visible)

NOAA/CIMSS ProbSevere All Hazards (Source), below, showed very high ProbHail and ProbWind with this cell as it approached Washington DC.

NOAA/CIMSS ProbSevere All Hazards, 2200 UTC on 14 May 2018 (Click to enlarge)

GOES-16 Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) data from Real Earth (Link for animation), below, shows an increase in electrical activity to the storms as they moved through Washington DC.

CONUS Hybrid Radar Reflectivity overlain with GLM observations, 2200-2330 UTC 14 May 2018 with 15-minute timestep.