Blowing dust along the southwest coast of Greenland

October 14th, 2018 |

As noted by Santiago Gassó, a long and very narrow plume of airborne dust was evident just off the southwest coast of Greenland on 14 October 2018. Terra MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS True Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images as viewed using RealEarth are shown below. An exposed (free of snow cover) glacial outlet between Qeqertarsuatsiaat and Paamiut was the point source of the dust plume — the change in water colors (shades of cyan) highlighted the offshore flow of meltwater from this glacier into the Labrador Sea, which then began to curve northward within the West Greenland Current. The strong pressure gradient between high pressure over southern Greenland and a low pressure southeast of the island (surface analyses) along with a passing trough axis caused brisk northerly winds, which lofted the aerosols into the boundary layer.

Terra MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS True Color RGB images [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS and Suomi NPP VIIRS True Color RGB images [click to enlarge]

The plume of aerosols was also apparent on GOES-16 (GOES-East) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm) images (below). The appearance of the plume on 1.61 µm imagery was due to the bright color of the “glacial flour” particles, which were efficient reflectors of incoming solar radiation — this brighter signature showed up well against the dark appearance of the water (which strongly absorbs radiation at the 1.61 µm wavelength).

GOES-16

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

GOES-16 Near-Infrared

GOES-16 Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

The plume of airborne dust was also seen on GOES-17 Visible and Near-Infrared images (below), although the viewing angle was less favorable than from GOES-16.

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

GOES-17 "Red" Visible (0.64 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

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

GOES-17 Near-Infrared "Snow/Ice" (1.61 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

Unfortunately, there were no surface observations in the vicinity of the plume source to indicate how strong the surface winds were blowing; the closest active reporting sites along the southwest coast of Greenland were Godthaab/Nuuk to the distant north and Narsarsuaq to the distant south (large-scale Near-Infrared image). However, Metop-B ASCAT winds (source) just offshore of the plume origin area were in the 30-40 knots range around 1440 UTC (below).

Metop-B ASCAT surface scatterometer winds [click to enlarge]

Metop-B ASCAT surface scatterometer winds [click to enlarge]

Post-Tropical Cyclone Leslie makes landfall in Portugal

October 13th, 2018 |

Aqua MODIS True Color RGB image [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS True Color RGB image, with and without surface reports [click to enlarge]

20 days after Leslie initially formed (and 17 days after it underwent extratropical transition), an Aqua MODIS True Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) image viewed using RealEarth (above) showed the storm at 1419 UTC on 13 October 2018, when it was still classified as a Category 1 Hurricane off the coast of Portugal. The southwest-to-northeast oriented cloud band just west of Leslie was associated with an advancing cold front (surface analyses), which soon began to absorb the tropical cyclone and aid in its extra-tropical transition a few hours prior to landfall.

EUMETSAT Meteosat-11 middle/upper-tropospheric Water Vapor (6.25 µm) images (below) exhibited a warm/drying trend (brighter shades of yellow) along the western and southern edges of Leslie as it moved inland across Portugal. Hourly Meteosat-11 Water Vapor images visualized using RealEarth are available here.

EUMETSAT Meteosat-11 Water Vapor (6.25 µm) images, with hourly plots of surface winds and gusts in knots [click to play animation | MP4]

EUMETSAT Meteosat-11 Water Vapor (6.25 µm) images, with hourly plots of surface winds and gusts in knots [click to play animation | MP4]

Along the coast of Portugal a thunderstorm was reported at Porto (LPPR) from 1930-2000 UTC (about an hour before landfall). Farther to the south, shortly after landfall the surface winds gusted to 55 knots (63 mph or 28.3 m/s) at Monte Real Air Base (LPMR) at 21 UTC and 42 knots (48 mph or 21.6 m/s) at Ovar Military Base (LPOV) at 23 UTC. The highest wind gust was 95 knots (110 mph or 49 m/s) at Figueira da Foz, located along the coast between LPMR and LPOV:

Meteosat-11 lower/middle-tropospheric Water Vapor (7.35 µm) images (below) revealed the characteristic “scorpion tail” signature of a Sting Jet (Monthly Weather Review | Wikipedia), along with a mesoscale region of warming/drying (darker shades of orange) driven by strong subsidence — this subsidence feature corresponded well with the report of strong winds at Figueira da Foz. Further discussion of this sting jet event is available here.

Meteosat-11 Water Vapor (7.35 µm) images, with hourly splots of surface winds and gusts in knots [click to play animation | MP4]

EUMETSAT Meteosat-11 Water Vapor (7.35 µm) images, with hourly plots of surface winds and gusts in knots [click to play animation | MP4]

Radar composites from the Portuguese Institute for Sea and Atmosphere (IPMA) confirmed that post-tropical cyclone Leslie made landfall around 2100 UTC (below).

Radar reflectivity composites [click to play animation]

Radar reflectivity composites [click to play animation]

Although the view from GOES-16 (GOES-East) was very oblique, the warm/dry signature around the western and southern edges of the storm was still evident on Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) imagery (below).

GOES-16 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images, with hourly plots of surface winds and gusts in knots [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images, with hourly plots of surface winds and gusts in knots [click to play animation | MP4]

The entire life cycle of Leslie — from becoming a named Subtropical Storm at 15 UTC on 23 September to making landfall as a post-tropical cyclone in Portugal at 21 UTC on 13 October — is shown with 15-minute GOES-16 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm)  and Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images (below). Note that 5-minute imagery was available on 01 October, when GOES-16 was performing a test of the Mode 4 scan strategy.

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]



Medicane “Zorbas”

September 29th, 2018 |

NOAA-20 and Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) images [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 and Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Medicane “Zorbas” — as named by Freie Universität Berlin (surface analyses) — developed in the Mediterranean Sea late in the day on 27 September 2018. A toggle between VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) images from NOAA-20 and Suomi NPP (above; courtesy of William Straka, CIMSS) revealed the well-defined circulation of the storm a few hours after Midnight local time on 28 September. Note the bright streak north of the storm center on the NOAA-20 image — this was an area of clouds illuminated by intense lightning activity. Other less prominent lightning streaks were evident in thunderstorms farther to the east over the Mediterranean Sea. On the Suomi NPP image, a small bright spot could be seen, evidence of minor volcanic activity at Mount Etna on the island of Sicily, as well as the hazy signature of a plume of blowing dust/sand that was moving northward off the coast of Libya. The corresponding VIIRS Infrared images are available here.

During the following daylight hours of 28 September, EUMETSAT Meteosat-11 High Resolution Visible (0.8 µm) images (below) showed the storm as it became better organized and increased intensity. Another dense plume of blowing dust/sand began to move off the coast of Libya late in the day.

Meteosat-11 Visible (0.8 µm) images, with hourly plots of wind barbs (yellow) and wind gusts (red) [click to play animation | MP4]

Meteosat-11 Visible (0.8 µm) images, with hourly plots of wind barbs (yellow) and wind gusts (red) [click to play animation | MP4]

On 29 September, Meteosat-11 Visible (0.8 µm) images (below) showed the Medicane moving inland along the Peloponnese coast of southern Greece — shortly after the storm center passed, winds gusted to 48 knots at Kalamata at 1220 UTC (while a heavy thunderstorm was being reported).

Meteosat-11 Visible (0.8 µm) images, with hourly plots of winds (yellow) and gusts in knots (red) [click to play animation | MP4]

Meteosat-11 Visible (0.8 µm) images, with hourly plots of wind barbs (yellow) and gusts in knots (red) [click to play animation | MP4]

A sequence of Terra and Aqua MODIS True Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images from 28 and 29 September from RealEarth (below) showed another view of the Zorbas on those 2 days (the valid time of the Terra MODIS image showing the eye-like feature on 29 September was 0911 UTC). Sea Surface Temperatures were near 25ºC in the central Mediterranean Sea where Zorbas was intensifying.

Terra/Aqua MODIS True Color RGB images on 28 and 29 September [click to enlarge]

Terra/Aqua MODIS True Color RGB images on 28 and 29 September [click to enlarge]

Hourly images of the MIMIC Total Precipitable Water product (below) showed moisture associated with the storm, which produced heavy rainfall and flash flooding in parts of southern Greece — the NESDIS Blended TPW Anomaly product indicated that this moisture was as much as 200% of normal for the region and date. Additional information and videos can be found here.

MIMIC morphed Total Precipitable Water images, 27-29 September [click to play animation | MP4]

MIMIC morphed Total Precipitable Water images, 27-29 September [click to play animation | MP4]

Carr Fire in northern California

August 11th, 2018 |
GOES-15, GOES-14, GOES-17 and GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-15, GOES-14, GOES-17 and GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

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

A comparison of GOES-15 (GOES-West), GOES-14, GOES-17 and GOES-16 (GOES-East) Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (above) showed the thermal anomaly or “hot spot” (dark black to red pixels) associated with the Carr Fire in northern California on 11 August 2018. A GOES-16 Mesoscale Domain Sector was providing images at 1-minute intervals. This comparison demonstrates how fire detection can be affected by both satellite viewing angle and shortwave infrared detector spatial resolution (4 km at satellite sub-point for the GOES-14/15 Imager, vs 2 km for the GOES-16/17 ABI).

A toggle between 30-meter resolution Landsat-8 False Color and Thermal Infrared (10.9 µm) imagery viewed using RealEarth (below) showed new fire activity (clusters of red pixels) along the northeastern edge of the Carr Fire burn scar on the False Color image, as well as smoke plumes drifting northeastward; the heat signatures (brighter white pixels) of smaller fires hidden by the smoke were more clearly ssen on the Thermal Infrared image. As of this date the Carr Fire was the 8th largest and 6th most destructive fire on record in California, and was responsible for 8 fatalities.

Landsat-8 False Color and Thermal Infrared (10.9 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Landsat-8 False Color and Thermal Infrared (10.9 µm) images [click to enlarge]