First full day of Summer: snow in the Brooks Range of Alaska

June 22nd, 2016

GOES-15 Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images [click to play animation]

GOES-15 Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images [click to play animation]

GOES-15 (GOES-West) Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images (above) showed the southeastward migration of an upper-level low across the North Slope and the eastern Brooks Range of Alaska during the 21 June – 22 June 2016 period. A potential vorticity (PV) anomaly was associated with this disturbance, which brought the dynamic tropopause — taken to be the pressure of the PV 1.5 surface — downward to below the 600 hPa pressure level over northern Alaska. Several inches of snow were forecast to fall in higher elevations of the eastern portion of the Brooks Range.

With the very large satellite viewing angle (or “zenith angle”) associated with GOES-15 imagery over Alaska  — which turns out to be 73.8 degrees for Fairbanks — the altitude of the peak of the Imager 6.5 µm water vapor weighting function (below) was shifted to higher altitudes (in this case, calculated using rawinsonde data from 12 UTC on 22 June, near the 300 hPa pressure level).

GOES-15 Imager water vapor (Band 3, 6.5 µm) weighting function [click to enlarge]

GOES-15 Imager water vapor (Band 3, 6.5 µm) weighting function [click to enlarge]

The ABI instrument on GOES-R will have 3 water vapor bands, roughly comparable to the 3 water vapor bands on the GOES-15 Sounder — the weighting functions for those 3 GOES-15 Sounder water vapor bands (calculated using the same Fairbanks rawinsonde data) are shown below. Assuming a similar spatial resolution as the Imager, the GOES-15 Sounder bands 11 (7.0 µm, green) and 12 (7.4 µm, red) would have allowed better sampling and visualization of the lower-altitude portion of this particular storm system. The 3 ABI water vapor bands are nearly identical to those on the Himawari-8 AHI instrument; an example of AHI water vapor imagery over part of Alaska can be seen here.

GOES-15 Sounder water vapor weighting function plots [click to enlarge]

GOES-15 Sounder water vapor weighting function plots [click to enlarge]

As the system departed and the clouds began to dissipate on 22 June, GOES-13 Visible (0.63 µm) images (below) did indeed show evidence of bright white snow-covered terrain on the northern slopes and highest elevations of the Brooks Range.

GOES-15 Visible (0.63 µm) images [click to play animation]

GOES-15 Visible (0.63 µm) images [click to play animation]

A sequence of 1-km resolution POES AVHRR Visible (0.86 µm) images (below) showed a view of the storm during the 21-22 June period, along with the resultant snow cover on 22 June. However, the snow quickly began to melt as the surface air temperature rebounded into the 50’s and 60’s F at some locations.

POES AVHRR Visible (0.86 µm) images [click to play animation]

POES AVHRR Visible (0.86 µm) images [click to play animation]

The increase in fresh snow cover along the northern slopes and the highest elevations of the central and northeastern Brooks Range — most notably from Anaktuvuk Pass to Fort Yukon to Sagwon — was evident in a comparison of Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) images from 17 June and 22 June, as viewed using RealEarth (below). The actual time of the satellite overpass on 22 June was 2134 UTC.

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color RGB images, 17 June and 22 June [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color RGB images, 17 June and 22 June [click to enlarge]

Localized heavy rainfall and flooding in south-central Wisconsin

June 15th, 2016

GOES-13 Infrared Window (10.7 µm) images [click to play animation]

GOES-13 Infrared Window (10.7 µm) images [click to play animation]

GOES-13 Infrared Window (10.7 µm) images (above) showed the development of several rounds of deep convection which moved over parts of southern Wisconsin during the 14 June15 June 2016 period; these storms were responsible for heavy rainfall at some locations (NWS Milwaukee summary). As mentioned in a WPC Mesoscale Precipitation Discussion, some of these storms were focused along the nose of a low-level jet that was helping to push a warm frontal boundary (surface analyses) through the region. Moisture was also abundant south of the warm front, with a total precipitable water value of 55.1 mm (2.17 inches) seen in rawinsonde data from Davenport IA.

Landsat-8 false-color image [click to enlarge]

Landsat-8 false-color image [click to enlarge]

A timely cloud-free overpass of the Landsat-8 satellite on the morning of 15 June provided a 30-meter resolution false-color image as viewed using RealEarth (above), which showed areas of flooding — water appears as darker shades of blue — in the Black Earth area of western Dane County in southern Wisconsin. A before/after comparison of Landsat-8 images processed using an equation to highlight water as blue (below, courtesy of Shane Hubbard, SSEC/CIMSS) revealed the areas of inundation due to the 14-15 June thunderstorms.

Landsat-8 derived water change, 30 May vs 15 June 2016 [click to enlarge]

Landsat-8 derived water change, 30 May vs 15 June 2016 [click to enlarge]

Aerial footage from a drone flight (below) showed vivid images of the flooding along Black Earth Creek.

YouTube video from drone flight near Black Earth, Wisconsin [click to play]

YouTube video from drone flight near Black Earth, Wisconsin [click to play]

Wildfire on the Kamchatka Peninsula of Russia

June 7th, 2016

Himawari-8 Visible (0.64 µm) images [click to play animation]

Himawari-8 Visible (0.64 µm) images [click to play animation]

A large wildfire had been burning for several days from late May into early June 2016 (VIIRS fire detection hot spots) near the west coast of the Kamchatka Peninsula of Russia. On 07 June, Himawari-8 Visible (0.64 µm) images (above) showed smoke from the wildfire which became entrained within the clockwise circulation of a weak area of low pressure (surface analyses) just off the coast over the Sea of Okhotsk. Beneath the smoke aloft, a swirl of low-level stratus cloud associated with this low was also very apparent. Other features of interest seen in the 0.5 km resolution 10-minute imagery include the intermittent formation of standing wave clouds over the high terrain (east of the fire), and small ice floes drifting westward just off the coast of Magadan Oblast (northwest of the fire).

A closer view using Himawari-8 Visible (0.64 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (below) revealed numerous hot spots (dark black to yellow to red pixels) around the periphery of the burn scar of the large fire, along with the brief development of small pyrocumulus clouds over some of the larger, more active fires. Note that the ABI instrument on GOES-R will provide similar imagery at high spatial (0.5 km visible, 2 km infrared) and temporal (5 minute Full Disk coverage) resolutions.

Himawari-8 0.64 µm Visible (top) and 3.9 µm Shortwave Infrared (bottom) images [click to play animation]

Himawari-8 0.64 µm Visible (top) and 3.9 µm Shortwave Infrared (bottom) images [click to play animation]

A Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) image viewed using RealEarth (below) provided a high-resolution view of the fire region and the plume of smoke curving around the low pressure feature.

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color image [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color image [click to enlarge]

Heavy Rainfall in Southeast Texas

May 27th, 2016

GOES-13 Infrared Window (10.7 µm) images [click to play animation]

GOES-13 Infrared Window (10.7 µm) images [click to play animation]

4-km resolution GOES-13 (GOES-East) Infrared Window (10.7 µm) images (above) showed the cold cloud tops associated with training and back-building thunderstorms that produced very heavy rainfall (along with some hail and damaging winds) in parts of Southeast Texas during the 26 May27 May 2016 period. The images are centered on Brenham, Texas (station identifies K11R), where over 19 inches of rainfall was reported in a 24-hour period (NWS Houston PNS). Note the presence of very cold cloud-top IR brightness temperatures of -80º C or colder (violet color enhancement).

During the overnight hours, a comparison of Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images at 0801 UTC or 3:01 am local time (below) revealed cloud-top gravity waves propagating northwestward away from the core of overshooting tops (which exhibited IR brightness temperatures as cold as -84º C) located just to the west of Brenham. Due to ample illumination from the Moon — which was in the Waning Gibbous phase, at 71% of Full — the “visible image at night” capability of the VIIRS Day/Night Band (DNB) was well-demonstrated. The bright white streaks seen on the DNB image are a signature of cloud-top illumination by intense lightning activity.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images [click to enlarge]

A time series plot of surface weather conditions at Brenham is shown below.

Time series plot of surface weather conditions at Brenham, Texas [click to enlarge]

Time series plot of surface weather conditions at Brenham, Texas [click to enlarge]

===== 28 May Update =====

Landsat-8 false-color RGB image [click to enlarge]

Landsat-8 false-color RGB image [click to enlarge]

A 30-meter resolution Landsat-8 false-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) image viewed using the RealEarth web map server (above) showed widespread areas of inundation (darker shades of blue) along the Brazos River and some of its tributaries, just to the east and north of Brenham, Texas.