Severe thunderstorms in Argentina

December 10th, 2018 |

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm, top) and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm, bottom) images [click to play MP4 animation]

A comparison of GOES-16 (GOES-East) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images (above) showed the development of thunderstorms ahead of a cold front (surface analyses) that was moving northward across central Argentina on 10 December 2018. A Mesoscale Domain Sector had been positioned over that region in support of IOP15 of the RELAMPAGO-CACTI field experiment, providing imagery at 1-minute intervals. The northernmost storm (of a cluster of 3) featured a very pronounced overshooting top that persisted for several hours, briefly exhibiting infrared brightness temperatures as cold as -80ºC at 2133 UTC. The overshooting top also began to take on an unusual darker gray appearance after that time, possibly suggesting that boundary layer dust or particulate matter was being lofted to the cloud top by the intense and long-lived updraft (some surface stations across northern Argentina were reporting blowing dust or smoke during that time period).

A similar comparison of GOES-16 “Red” Visible and Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm) images helped to illustrate the formation of multiple Above-Anvil Cirrus Plume (AACP) features, which is a signature of thunderstorms that are producing or could soon be producing severe weather (tornadoes, large hail or damaging winds). Additional GOES-16 animations of these storms can be found on the Satellite Liaison Blog.

GOES-16 "Red" Visible (0.64 µm, top) and Near-Infrared "Snow/Ice" (1.61 µm, bottom) images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm, top) and Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm, bottom) images [click to play MP4 animation]

A zoom-in of a NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) image at 1835 UTC viewed using RealEarth  (below) showed the 3 discrete thunderstorms in the vicinity of Santa Rosa.

NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color RGB image at 1835 UTC [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color RGB image at 1835 UTC [click to enlarge]

A toggle between NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color RGB and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images at 1835 UTC (below) revealed the cold overshooting tops associated with each of the 3 thunderstorms.

NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color RGB and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images at 1835 UTC [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color RGB and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images at 1835 UTC [click to enlarge]

A toggle between NOAA-20 VIIRS Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images at 1835 UTC on 10 December and 0555 UTC on 11 December (below) showed the upscale growth into a large Mesoscale Convective System (MCS) that moved northeastward.

NOAA-20 VIIRS Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images at 1835 UTC on 10 December and 0555UTC on 11 December [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 VIIRS Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images at 1835 UTC on 10 December and 0555 UTC on 11 December [click to enlarge]

This MCS eventually produced very large hail near Buenos Aires and flooding in Rosario.


Industrial and ship plumes in supercooled clouds

December 4th, 2018 |

MODIS and VIIRS

MODIS and VIIRS “Fog/stratus” BTD images [click to enlarge]

A sequence of nighttime MODIS and VIIRS “Fog/stratus” infrared Brightness Temperature Difference (BTD) images (above) revealed long plumes (darker shades of red) streaming southwestward for over 200 miles from their industrial point sources in the Mesabi Range of northeastern Minnesota on 03 December 2018.

During the subsequent daytime hours, a comparison of GOES-16 (GOES-East) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm), Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm), Near-Infrared “Cloud Particle Size” (2.24 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (below) showed signatures of these Mesabi Range plumes along with others emanating from industrial or power plant sources. A few ship tracks were also apparent across Lake Superior.

Particles emitted from the exhaust stacks at power plants and industrial sites (as well as ships) can act as efficient cloud condensation nuclei, which causes the formation of large numbers of supercooled water droplets having a smaller diameter than those found within the adjacent unperturbed supercooled clouds — and these smaller supercooled cloud droplets are better reflectors of incoming solar radiation, thereby appearing brighter in the Near-Infrared and warmer (darker gray) in the Shortwave Infrared images.

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm), Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm), Near-Infrared “Cloud Particle Size” (2.24 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

On the following night, another sequence of MODIS and VIIRS “Fog/stratus” infrared Brightness Temperature Difference (BTD) images (below) highlighted a number of industrial and power plant plumes across Minnesota, northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The curved shape of many of these plumes resulted from boundary layer winds shifting from northerly to westerly as the night progressed.

MODIS and VIIRS "Fog/stratus" BTD images [click to enlarge]

MODIS and VIIRS “Fog/stratus” BTD images [click to enlarge]

During the following daytime hours on 04 December, a comparison of VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm), Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images (below) showed 2 plume types across eastern Nebraska. There were several of the brighter/warmer plumes similar to those noted on the previous day across Minnesota/Wisconsin/Michigan — but one large plume originating from industrial sites just east of Norfolk (KOFK) had the effect of eroding the supercooled cloud deck via glaciation (initiated by the emission of particles that acted as efficient ice nuclei) and subsequent snowfall. This is similar to the process that creates aircraft “distrails” or “fall streak clouds” as documented here, here and here.

VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm), Near-Infrared

VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm), Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images [click to enlarge]


Farther to the east over Ohio and Pennsylvania, another example of the 2 plume types was seen (below) — one plume originating from an industrial site near Cleveland was glaciating/eroding the supercooled cloud and producing snowfall, while another bright/warm supercooled droplet plume was moving southeastward from a point source located west of Indiana County Airport KIDI.

The Cleveland plume was captured by an overpass of the Landsat-8 satellite, with a False Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) image viewed using RealEarth providing great detail with 30-meter resolution (below). A small “overshooting top” can even be seen above the industrial site southeast of Cleveland, with the swath of glaciated and eroding cloud extending downwind (to the southeast) from that point.

Landsat-8 False Color RGB image [click to enlarge]

Landsat-8 False Color RGB image [click to enlarge]

Coincidentally, Landsat-8 also captured another example of a glaciating cloud plume downwind of the Flint Hills Oil Refinery south of St. Paul, Minnesota on 03 December (below). The erosion/glaciation of supercooled cloud extended as far south as Albert Lea, Minnesota. Similar to the Cleveland example, a small “overshooting top” was seen directly over the plume point source.

Landsat-8 False Color RGB image [click to enlarge]

Landsat-8 False Color RGB image [click to enlarge]

===== 08 December Update =====

The effect of this industrial plume glaciating and eroding the supercooled water droplet clouds over northern Indiana was also seen in a comparison of Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm), Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm) and Infrared Window (11.0 µm) images (below).

Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm), Near-Infrared

Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm), Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm) and Infrared Window (11.0 µm) images [click to enlarge]

===== 09 December Update =====



During the following daytime hours, GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm), Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm), Near-Infrared “Cloud Particle Size” (2.24 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images (below) showed a number of plumes from industrial sites (many of which were likely refineries) streaming southeastward and eastward over the Gulf of Mexico on 09 December. Note the lack of a plume signature in the 10.3 µm imagery.
GOES-16 "Red" Visible (0.64 µm), Near-Infrared "Snow/Ice" (1.61 µm), Near-Infrared "Cloud Particle Size" (2.24 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) and "Clean" Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm), Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm), Near-Infrared “Cloud Particle Size” (2.24 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

Thunderstorms over Argentina

November 29th, 2018 |

Suomi NPP VIIRS True Color RGB image at 1753 UTC [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS True Color RGB image at 1753 UTC [click to enlarge]

A Suomi NPP VIIRS True Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) image viewed using RealEarth (above) showed numerous thunderstorms developing across the foothills of the Andes in western Argentina on 29 September 2018, in advance of a cold front that was moving northward.

Closer views of VIIRS True Color and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images from Suomi NPP at 1753 UTC and NOAA-20 at 1843 UTC (below) depicted several cold overshooting tops (darker red enhancement) associated with the more vigorous thunderstorm updrafts.

Suomi NPP VIIRS True Color RGB and Infrared Windoe (11.45 µm) images at 1753 UTC [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS True Color RGB and Infrared Windoe (11.45 µm) images at 1753 UTC [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color RGB and Infrared Windoe (11.45 µm) images at 1843 UTC [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color RGB and Infrared Windoe (11.45 µm) images at 1843 UTC [click to enlarge]

In support of the RELAMPAGO-CACTI field experiment, a GOES-16 (GOES-East) Mesoscale Domain Sector had been positioned over the region, providing 1-minute imagery — animations of “Red” Visible (0.64 µm), Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm) and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) imagery (below) showed the upscale development of the convection from 1300-2330 UTC. The largest storms were in the vicinity of and to the south of Mendoza (SAME) and Rio Cuarto (SAOC).

GOES-16

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

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

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

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

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

Toward the end of the day, a closer look at one storm along the southeastern end of the large convective complex (below) showed that it exhibited awell-defined enhanced-V signature around 20 UTC and shortly thereafter produced a long-lived Above-Anvil Cirrus Plume (AACP). Both are signatures of storms that often produce large hail, damaging winds or tornadoes.

GOES-16 "Red" Visible (0.64 µm, top), Near-Infrared :Snow/Ice" (1.61 µm, center) and "Clean" Infrared Window (10.3 µm, bottom) images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm, top), Near-Infrared :Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm, center) and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm, bottom) images [click to play MP4 animation]

The AACP exhibited a colder (around -55ºC, shades of orange) infrared brightness temperature than the anvil beneath it (-40 to -50ºC, green to yellow enhancement), due to the atmospheric temperature profile aloft as seen on 12 UTC rawinsonde data from nearby Santa Rosa (below). The sounding profile suggests that the AACP was at or perhaps above the tropopause.

Plot of 12 UTC Santa Rosa rawinsonde data [click to enlarge]

Plot of 12 UTC Santa Rosa rawinsonde data [click to enlarge]

Train of standing waves south of Hawai’i

November 25th, 2018 |
GOES-17 Low-level (7.3 µm), Mid-level (6.9 µm) and Upper-level (6.2 µm) Water Vapor images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 Low-level (7.3 µm), Mid-level (6.9 µm) and Upper-level (6.2 µm) Water Vapor images [click to play animation | MP4]

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

GOES-17 Low-level (7.3 µm), Mid-level (6.9 µm) and Upper-level (6.2 µm) Water Vapor images (above) revealed an interesting train of standing waves about 100-150 miles south of the Big Island of Hawai’i on 25 November 2018. With the presence of moisture aloft, the 3 water vapor weighting functions — calculated using the 00 UTC Hilo sounding — were shifted to high enough altitudes to eliminate the sensing of radiation from features in the lower troposphere. There were no pilot reports of turbulence in the vicinity of these standing waves — but they were located outside of the primary commercial air traffic corridors to/from the islands.

GOES-17 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) and Near-Infrared “Cirrus” (1.37 µm) images (below) showed that these wave clouds were radiometrically transparent to longwave thermal energy being emitted from/near the surface — note that marine boundary layer stratocumulus clouds could be seen drifting westward within the easterly trade wind flow. As a result, the satellite-sensed 10.3 µm infrared brightness temperatures of the standing wave clouds were significantly warmer than that of the air at higher altitudes where they existed. These standing wave cloud features were, however, very apparent in 1.37 µm Cirrus imagery, along with what appeared to be other thin filaments of cirrus cascading southward overhead. The southward motion of the features seen on Cirrus imagery suggests that they existed at pressure levels of 370 hPa (26,900 feet / 8.2 km) or higher — altitudes where northerly winds were found on the Hilo sounding.

GOES-17 "Clean" Infrared Window (10.3 µm) and Near-Infrared "Cirrus" (1.37 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) and Near-Infrared “Cirrus” (1.37 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

A comparison of all 16 ABI spectral bands is shown below. Note that in the longwave infrared bands along the bottom 4 panels, the brightness temperatures are progressively colder (darker shades of green) on the 11.2 µm, 12.3 µm and 13.3 µm images — each of these bands are increasingly affected by water vapor absorption aloft, therefore more effectively sensing the thin layer of higher-altitude standing wave clouds. AWIPS cursor sampling showed the differences in detected brightness temperature at 3 different points along the feature: here, here and here. The increasing sensitivity to radiation emitted from higher altitudes can also be seen in a comparison of weighting functions for ABI bands 13, 14, 15 and 16.

GOES-17 images of all 16 ABI bands [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 images of all 16 ABI spectral bands [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-15 (GOES-West) Water Vapor (6.5 µm), Infrared Window (10.7 µm) and Infrared CO2 (13.3 µm) images (below) showed that the lower spatial resolution of the legacy GOES Imager infrared bands (4 km at satellite sub-point) was not able to resolve the individual waves as well as the 2-km GOES-17 ABI images . Also, as was seen with the GOES-17 imagery, the 13.3 µm CO2 brightness temperatures of the standing wave clouds were significantly colder (shades of blue) compared to those of the conventional 10.7 µm Infrared Window. The corresponding GOES-15 Visible imagery (0.63 µm) is also available: animated GIF | MP4.

GOES-15 Water Vapor (6.5 µm, keft), Infrared Window (10.7 µm, center) and Infraered CO2 (13.3 µm, right) images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-15 Water Vapor (6.5 µm, keft), Infrared Window (10.7 µm, center) and Infraered CO2 (13.3 µm, right) images [click to play animation | MP4]

In comparisons of VIIRS True Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images from Suomi NPP and NOAA-20 visualized using RealEarth (below), note the highly-transparent nature of the standing wave clouds on the RGB images; only the earliest 2256 UTC VIIRS 11.45 µm image displayed brightness temperatures of -20ºC and colder (cyan to blue enhancement).

Suomi NPP VIIRS True Color RGB and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images at 2256 UTC [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS True Color RGB and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images at 2256 UTC [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color RGB and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images at 2336 UTC [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color RGB and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images at 2336 UTC [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS True Color RGB and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images at 0028 UTC [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS True Color RGB and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images at 0028 UTC [click to enlarge]

Terra (at 2043 UTC) and Aqua (at 2347 UTC) MODIS True Color RGB images along with retrievals of Cloud Phase, Cloud Top Temperature, Cloud Top Height and Cloud Top Pressure from the WorldView site (below) indicated that the standing wave feature was composed of ice crystal clouds exhibiting temperature values of -53ºC and colder (dark purple enhancement) located at heights of 12 km or higher (and at pressure levels at or above 250 hPa). These temperature/height/pressure values roughly corresponded to the upper portion of a layer of increasing relative humidity between 200-274 hPa on the Hilo sounding.

Terra MODIS True Color RGB image and retrievals of Cloud Phase, Cloud Top Temperature, Cloud Top Height and Cloud Top Pressure at 2043 UTC [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS True Color RGB image and retrievals of Cloud Phase, Cloud Top Temperature, Cloud Top Height and Cloud Top Pressure at 2043 UTC [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS True Color RGB image and retrievals of Cloud Phase, Cloud Top Temperature, Cloud Top Height and Cloud Top Pressure at 2347 UTC [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS True Color RGB image and retrievals of Cloud Phase, Cloud Top Temperature, Cloud Top Height and Cloud Top Pressure at 2347 UTC [click to enlarge]

However, an experimental CLAVR-x version of GOES-17 Cloud Type, Cloud Top Temperature and Cloud Top Height products (below; courtesy of Steve Wanzong, CIMSS) indicated Cirrus clouds having temperature values in the 210-200 K (-63 to -73ºC) range at heights within the 13-16 km range. These colder/higher values raise the question of whether the wave clouds might have formed and been ducted within the shallow temperature inversion near 15 km on the Hilo sounding.

GOES-17 Cloud Type product [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 Cloud Type product [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 Cloud Top Temperature product [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 Cloud Top Temperature product [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 Cloud Top Height product [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 Cloud Top Height product [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 False Color RGB images (below) vividly portrayed the transparent nature of the high-altitude standing wave cloud feature, which allowed westward-moving stratocumulus clouds within the marine boundary layer to plainly be seen. The RGB components are 1.38 µm / 0.64 µm /  1.61 µm.

GOES-17 False Color RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 False Color RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

A coherent explanation of this feature and what caused it to form remains elusive, earning it a distinguished place in the what the heck is this? blog category. Perhaps one clue existed in the winds aloft, as depicted by the NAM at 200 hPa, 250 hPa and 300 hPa (below), which showed northerly/northeasterly flow that was decelerating as it entered a trough axis (the region within the red box). Could this flow deceleration have induced a “reverse flow” which then caused enough weak lift to form the thin standing wave clouds within the aforementioned semi-moist 200-274 hPa layer seen on the Hilo sounding? No other obvious forcing mechanisms were in the immediate area — a slowly-approaching surface cold front was too far north of Hawai’i to have played a role.

NAM Winds at 200 hPa, 250 hPa and 300 hPa [click to enlarge]

NAM Winds at 200 hPa, 250 hPa and 300 hPa [click to enlarge]