The King Fire in California

September 19th, 2014
Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color images

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color images

The King Fire began burning in central California (between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe) during the evening hours on 13 September 2014. A sequence of daily (12-19 September) Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) images from the SSEC RealEarth web map server site (above) showed that as the prevailing southwesterly wind pattern switched to easterly on 19 September, there was a major change in the transport of smoke from the King Fire. The final image in the series zooms out to show how much of central California had become over-run with thick smoke.

A comparison of AWIPS-II images of Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band and 3.74 µm shortwave IR image at 09:18 UTC or 2:18 AM local time (below) revealed the bright glow of the large fire complex, along with the large fire “hot spot” signature (black to yellow to red color enhancement).

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band and 3.74 µm shortwave IR images

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band and 3.74 µm shortwave IR images

Suomi NPP VIIRS 3.74 µm shortwave IR images during the overnight hours (just after 2 AM local time) on 17 and 18 September (below) showed the dramatic northeastward advance of the fire hot spot signature during that 24-hour period. Smoke from the fire was reducing the surface visibility to 3-4 miles as far to the northeast as Lovelock (KLOL) and Fallon (KNFL) in Nevada.

Suomi NPP VIIRS 3.74 µm shortwave IR images

Suomi NPP VIIRS 3.74 µm shortwave IR images

MODIS false-color images show areas of flooding in Montana

August 26th, 2014
Before (12 August) and after (26 August) MODIS false-color RGB images

Before (12 August) and after (26 August) MODIS false-color RGB images

Some locations in northeastern Montana received up to 7-8 inches of rainfall over a 5-day period (NWS Glasgow rainfall map), which led to flooding in many areas. A comparison of before (12 August) and after (26 August) 250-meter resolution MODIS false-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) images from the SSEC MODIS Today site (above) showed the areal extent of flooding (cyan to darker blue areas on the 26 August image). The RGB images use MODIS bands 7/2/1 to help highlight the areas of of floodwater.

The maps below show the total observed rainfall, the departure from normal, and the percent of normal for the 7-day period ending on 26 August.

Observed 7-day rainfall

Observed 7-day rainfall

7-day rainfall departure from normal

7-day rainfall departure from normal

7-day rainfall percent of normal

7-day rainfall percent of normal

The effect of wind shear on Tropical Storm Karina

August 24th, 2014
GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel  images (click to play Animated GIF)

GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel images (click to play Animated GIF)

GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel images (Animated GIF | MP4 movie | YouTube video | QuickTime movie) showed the decoupling of the upper-level and lower-level circulations of Tropical Storm Karina in the East Pacific Ocean on 24 August 2014. This decoupling was caused by strong wind shear along the western periphery of Category 5 Hurricane Marie, which was located to the east-southeast of Karina (large-scale view). Kudos to Dennis Chesters (NASA/Goddard) for bringing this interesting case to our attention (and providing the QuickTime movie linked to above).

The corresponding GOES-15 10.7 µm IR channel images (Animated GIF | MP4 movie | YouTube video) showed the cold clouds (red to black to white to purple color enhancement) associated with the upper-level circulation moving northward and quickly dissipating; the signature of the warmer clouds (darker cyan color enhancement) associated with the lower-level circulation can also be seen emerging from beneath the cold cloud shield and moving eastward.

GOES-15 10.7 µm IR channel images (click to play Animated GIF)

GOES-15 10.7 µm IR channel images (click to play Animated GIF)

A closer view provided by a Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) image from the SSEC RealEarth web map server (below) showed the separation of the upper-level and lower-level circulations around 21:53 UTC.

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color RGB image

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color RGB image

A sequence of 4 images (15, 18, 21, and 00 UTC) from the CIMSS Tropical Cyclones site (below) shows GOES-15 6.5 µm water vapor channel images with overlays of deep-layer wind shear (derived from satellite winds). To the east of Karina (which was located in the center of the images), the large anticylcone aloft associated with Category 5 Hurricane Marie can be seen, with increasing vales of southeasterly wind shear moving over Karina.

GOES-15 6.5 µm water vapor images with overlays of deep layer wind shear

15 UTC GOES-15 6.5 µm water vapor images with overlays of deep layer wind shear

The 3 image comparisons below show the separation of the centers of upper-level divergence (yellow) and lower-level convergence (cyan) as the decoupling process was occurring at 18 UTC, 21 UTC, and 00 UTC.

18 UTC GOES-15 6.5 µm water vapor image with upper-level divergence (yellow) and GOES-15 10.7 µm IR image with lower-level convergence (cyan)

18 UTC: GOES-15 6.5 µm water vapor image with upper-level divergence (yellow) and GOES-15 10.7 µm IR image with lower-level convergence (cyan)

21 UTC: GOES-15 6.5 µm water vapor image with upper-level divergence (yellow) and GOES-15 10.7 µm IR image with lower-level convergence (cyan)

21 UTC: GOES-15 6.5 µm water vapor image with upper-level divergence (yellow) and GOES-15 10.7 µm IR image with lower-level convergence (cyan)

00 UTC: GOES-15 6.5 µm water vapor image with upper-level divergence (yellow) and GOES-15 10.7 µm IR image with lower-level convergence (cyan)

00 UTC: GOES-15 6.5 µm water vapor image with upper-level divergence (yellow) and GOES-15 10.7 µm IR image with lower-level convergence (cyan)

===== 25 August Update =====

GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel images, with Metop ASCAT surface scatterometer winds

GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel images, with Metop ASCAT surface scatterometer winds

Even though the southeastward-moving low-level circulation of Karina had been downgraded to a Tropical Depression with 30 knot winds, there was still an impressive burst of convection just west of the center as it began to move back over warmer water on 25 August. Metop ASCAT surface scatterometer winds (above) showed a small pocket of winds in the 30.0-39.9 knot range (green wind barbs) at 18:29 UTC.

There were also some Tropical Overshooting Top (TOT) targets detected within the convective burst (below); TOT symbols: Red = 0-1 hour previous, Green = 1-2 hours previous, Blue = 2-3 hours previous.

GOES-15 Infrared - Water Vapor difference product, and Tropical Overshooting Tops product (TOT symbols: Red = 0-1 hour previous, Green = 1-2 hours previous, Blue = 2-3 hours previous)

GOES-15 Infrared – Water Vapor difference product, and Tropical Overshooting Tops product (TOT symbols: Red = 0-1 hour previous, Green = 1-2 hours previous, Blue = 2-3 hours previous)

Iselle and Julio in the Pacific Ocean

August 6th, 2014
Suomi NPP True Color Imagery of Iselle 2245 UTC 5 August (click to enlarge)

Suomi NPP True Color Imagery of Iselle 2245 UTC 5 August (click to enlarge)

Hurricanes Iselle and Julio in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean, respectively, are forecast to affect the Hawaiian Islands in the coming days. The True-Color image of Iselle, above, derived from data from Suomi NPP downloaded at NOAA’s X/L Antenna in Hawaii from 2245 UTC on 5 August shows asymmetries in the storm that testify to the presence of dry air ahead of the storm that is wrapping into the circulation from the southwest. (Compare the storm’s presentation at 2245 UTC 5 August, above, to the more circular one 24 hours earlier, at 2300 UTC on 4 August (from this post), when dry air was not impinging on Iselle’s side). The toggle below, between the 11.35 µm imagery, at 1113 UTC and the Day Night Band at the same time shows the ragged appearance of the storm. Coldest cloud tops were -63 C.

Suomi NPP 11.35 µm Infrared and Day Night Band Visible Imagery at 1113 UTC 6 August (click to animate)

Suomi NPP 11.35 µm Infrared and Day Night Band Visible Imagery at 1113 UTC 6 August (click to animate)

GOES-15 water vapor imagery, below, shows the region of dry air in between Iselle and the Hawaiian Islands. Such warm values (the yellow in the enhancement) in the water vapor channel mean the top of the moist layer is low in the troposphere. Of course, water vapor imagery does not quantify the amount of moisture in the atmosphere, it only identifies where the top of the moist layer is. Total Precipitable Water (TPW) can be estimated, with accuracy, using microwave imagery, and the MIMIC TPW for the 72 hours ending at 1100 UTC on 6 August (from this site), below, shows very dry air in advance of the Iselle. Further Information and advisories on Iselle can be found at the website of the Central Pacific Hurricane Center in Honolulu (Link).

GOES-15 6.5 µm Water Vapor Imagery, 1200 UTC 6 August 2014 (click to enlarge)

GOES-15 6.5 µm Water Vapor Imagery, 1200 UTC 6 August 2014 (click to enlarge)

Morphed Integrated Microwave Imagery at CIMSS - Total Precipitable Water (MIMIC-TPW) for 72 hours ending 1100 UTC 6 August 2014 (click to enlarge)

Morphed Integrated Microwave Imagery at CIMSS – Total Precipitable Water (MIMIC-TPW) for 72 hours ending 1100 UTC 6 August 2014 (click to enlarge)

Hurricane Julio is also obvious in the TPW animation above, following close on the heels of Iselle. Julio will not have as much dry air to deal with, compared to Iselle, as it moves west-northwestward. However, Julio will move farther north than Iselle, and the cooler water under Julio’s projected track (and somewhat stronger shear) should limit its strength as it moves north of the Hawaiian Islands. (Click here the forecast track for Julio valid 6 August 2014; Click here for the forecast track for Iselle).

GOES-15 0.62 µm Visible Imagery, 00 UTC 6 August 2014, of Julio (click to enlarge)

GOES-15 0.62 µm Visible Imagery, 00 UTC 6 August 2014, of Julio (click to enlarge)

Visible imagery from GOES-15, above, at 00 UTC on 6 August, shows that Julio (at that time still a tropical storm) is circular in appearance and lacking an identifiable eye. A burst of convection is apparent over the center, however. The infrared imagery from 00 UTC and 12 UTC, below, shows little change in Julio. It nevertheless strengthened to become the fifth hurricane of the eastern Pacific season.

GOES-15 10.7 µm infrared Imagery, 00 and 12 UTC 6 August 2014, of Julio (click to animate)

GOES-15 10.7 µm infrared Imagery, 00 and 12 UTC 6 August 2014, of Julio (click to animate)

The toggle above of the 10.7 µm imagery shows an obvious overshooting top at 1200 UTC. Overshooting tops have been correlated with storm intensification. The plot below shows where overshooting tops were identified at 1330 UTC on 6 August (taken from this site). Plots showing the number of overshooting tops as a function of time are available for Iselle and Julio.

Infrared 10.7 µm Imagery and auto-detected Overshooting Tops, 1330 UTC 6 August 2014 (click to enlarge)

Infrared 10.7 µm Imagery and auto-detected Overshooting Tops, 1330 UTC 6 August 2014 (click to enlarge)