Standing wave clouds over Virginia and North Carolina

March 7th, 2019 |

GOES-16

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm), “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm), Cloud Top Height, Cloud Particle Size Distribution, and Cloud Phase [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 (GOES-East) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm), “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm), Cloud Top Height, Cloud Particle Size Distribution, and Cloud Phase (above) helped to characterize standing wave clouds that developed to the lee of the Appalachian Mountains on 07 March 2019. The primary standing wave rotor clouds were composed of smaller supercooled water droplets,  with “banner clouds” composed of larger/colder ice crystals forming downwind of the rotor clouds. For example, at 1637 UTC cloud particle sizes associated with the rotor clouds were as small as 3-10 µm (darker shades of purple).

GOES-16 Day Cloud Phase Distinction Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images from the AOS site (below) also identified the rotor clouds as supercooled water droplet features (brighter shades of white), with the banner clouds being identified as high-level ice (shades of pink) or glaciating (shades of green) features. An unrelated phenomena was the brief brightening of the bare ground across much of the Southeast US midway through the animation — a result of transient solar reflectance that is seen around the Spring and Autumn equinox.

GOES-16 Day Cloud Phase Distinction RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Day Cloud Phase Distinction RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

In a comparison of 1-km resolution Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm), Near-Infrared “Cirrus” (1.37 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.7 µm) and Infrared Window (11.0 µm) images at 1631 UTC (below), note that the standing wave rotor clouds appeared much warmer (darker gray) in the Shortwave Infrared images — this is due to the fact that small supercooled water droplets are very efficient reflectors of incoming solar radiation.

Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm), Near-Infrared

Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm), Near-Infrared “Cirrus” (1.37 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.7 µm) and Infrared Window (11.0 µm) images [click to enlarge]

There were a few pilot reports of light to moderate turbulence in the general vicinity of the standing waves, especially around 14 UTC (below).

Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) image, with pilot reports of turbulence [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) image, with pilot reports of turbulence [click to enlarge]

Tehuano wind event

March 5th, 2019 |

GOES-17 (left) and GOES-16 (right)

GOES-17 (left) and GOES-16 (right) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images, with plots of surface wind barbs (speed in knots) [click to play animation | MP4]

After a strong arctic cold front plunged southward across the US, the Gulf of Mexico, and then southern Mexico during the previous two days (surface analyses), GOES-17 (GOES-West) and GOES-16 (GOES-East) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images (above) revealed the hazy plume of dust-laden Tehuano gap wind flow as it emerged from the southern coast of Mexico and spread southwestward across the Gulf of Tehuantepec and the Pacific Ocean on 05 March 2019. An image of the topography of southeastern Mexico shows the location of Chivela Pass, through which these gap winds flow. Along the Gulf of Mexico coast, surface winds gusted to 30 knots and higher after the cold front moved through Minatitlán/Coatzacoalcos International Airport (station identifier MMMT); off the Pacific coast, a ship in the Gulf of Tehuantepec reported a sustained wind speed of 30 knots at 12 UTC.

The GOES-16 Aerosol Optical Depth product (below) showed lightly enhanced AOD values toward the outer edges of the swath of Tehuano winds. Note the gap in the product during the afternoon hours, when large amounts of sun glint were present.

GOES-16 Aerosol Optical Depth product [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Aerosol Optical Depth product [click to play animation | MP4]

The GOES-16 Dust Detection product (below) did portray Low to Medium-Confidence areas of dust within the gap wind flow.

GOES-16 Dust Detection product [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Dust Detection product [click to play animation | MP4]

An overpass of the Suomi NPP satellite after 19 UTC provided numerous NUCAPS sounding profiles both within and outside of the perimeter of the Tehuano winds (below).

GOES-16 Aerosol Optical Depth product, with plots of available NUCAPS sounding profiles [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 Aerosol Optical Depth product, with plots of available NUCAPS sounding profiles [click to enlarge]

A comparison between a dry NUCAPS sounding (Point D) where the gap winds were first exiting the coast over the Gulf of Tehuantepec and a more “undisturbed” moist sounding (Point M) northwest of the gap wind flow is shown below. The dry air of the Tehuano wind flow was very shallow, but its presence could be seen in differences between the marine boundary layer dew point profile and the resulting height of the Lifting Condensation Level (LCL).

Comparison of Dry (D) and Moist (M) NUCAPS soundings [click to enlarge]

Comparison of Dry (D) and Moist (M) NUCAPS soundings [click to enlarge]

A NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) image viewed using RealEarth (below) also showed the hazy signature of dust-laden air.

NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) image [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) image [click to enlarge]

===== 06 March Update =====

GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) image, with Metop-A ASCAT winds [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) image, with Metop-A ASCAT winds [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images with overlays of Metop-A ASCAT winds around 0338 UTC (above) and 1607 UTC (below) revealed a secondary surge of Tehuano winds on 06 March. The highest wind speed at 0338 UTC was 44 knots, with 38 knots being measured at 1607 UTC.

GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) image, with Metop-A ASCAT winds [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) image, with Metop-A ASCAT winds [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared images (below) were useful to monitor the spread of cooler water (shades of yellow) as the strong surface winds induced upwelling — especially since the resulting strong gradient in water temperatures was falsely interpreted as cloud by the GOES-16 Sea Surface Temperature product.

GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 and GOES-16 Visible images (below) showed how the swath of Tehuano winds had spread out toward the south and southwest compared to the previous day.

GOES-17 (left) and GOES-16 (right) "Red" Visible (0.64 µm) images, with plots of surface wind barbs (speed in knots) [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-17 (left) and GOES-16 (right) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images, with plots of surface wind barbs (speed in knots) [click to play animation | MP4]

In contrast to the previous day, the GOES-16 Dust Detection product (below) showed a larger coverage of dust on 06 March — with significantly more Medium Confidence areas.

GOES-16 "Red" Visible (0.64 µm) images + Dust Detection product [click to play animation | MP4]

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

A Suomi NPP VIIRS True Color RGB image at 1930 UTC (below) showed the hazy corridor of Tehuano winds bracketed by rope clouds.

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

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

Tornado outbreak in Alabama and Georgia

March 3rd, 2019 |

GOES-16

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

An outbreak of severe thunderstorms occurred during the afternoon hours of 03 March 2019, which produced large hail, damaging winds and tornadoes (SPC storm reports). 1-minute Mesoscale Domain Sector GOES-16 (GOES-East) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images (above) showed the development of numerous thunderstorms along and ahead of an advancing cold front (surface analyses); many of those storms exhibited well-defined overshooting tops. Tornado track summaries for Alabama and Georgia are available from NWS Birmingham and NWS Atlanta.

The corresponding GOES-16 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images are shown below. Cloud-top infrared brightness temperatures cooled to around -70ºC (darker black enhancement) with many of the stronger storms — judging from rawinsonde data from Birmingham, Alabama (at 12 UTC) and Peachtree City, Georgia (at 18 UTC), this roughly corresponded to an air parcel rising significantly past the tropopause to an altitude of at least 15 km.

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

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

An area which included western Lee County (located in far eastern Alabama, adjacent to the Georgia border) was highlighted by a SPC MCD that was issued at 1900 UTC. Beginning about an hour later, 2 large tornadoes producing EF2 to EF4 damage moved across southern Lee County — initially beginning around 2000 UTC, then again beginning around 2050 UTC — and the formation of prominent overshooting tops was evident in GOES-16 Visible and Infrared imagery (below). Station identifier KAUO in Lee County is the Auburn-Opelika Airport. (side note: later, around 2204 UTC, the Weedon Field Airport KEUF METAR site to the south of Lee County was directly hit by a separate EF2 tornado, and rendered inoperative)

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

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm, left) and “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm, right) images, with SPC storm reports plotted in red/cyan — Lee County, Alabama is outlined in solid blue, with other affected counties in dashed blue [click to play animation | MP4]

In a plot of the GOES-16 “Clean” Infrared Window coldest brightness temperature for the EF4-tornado storm’s overshooting top as it moved from Macon/Lee Counties in Alabama to Muscogee/Harris/Talbot Counties in Georgia (below), 3 distinct periods of cooling/warming occurred — with the warming indicative of a temporary collapse of the overshooting top pulse. The first (and largest-magnitude) cold/warm pulse (-70.3ºC to -65.6ºC) occurred from 1953-1959 UTC — just prior to the beginning of the Beauregard-Smiths Station EF4 Tornado at 2000 UTC. A second cold/warm pulse (-70.8ºC to -66.9ºC) occurred from 2006-2012 UTC, with a third (-70.0ºC to -66.0ºC) from 2015-2022 UTC. At 2029 UTC the long-track tornado then crossed into Muscogee County in Georgia, producing EF3 damage.

Plot of the coldest GOES-16

Plot of the coldest GOES-16 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) overshooting top brightness temperatures, 2040-2115 UTC [click to enlarge]

The NOAA/CIMSS ProbSevere product (below) displayed a high tornado probability for the cells that approached Lee County, as discussed by the Hazardous Weather Testbed. The ProbSevere model incorporates GOES-derived Normalized vertical growth rate and Cloud-top glaciation rate as 2 of its predictors.

MRMS MergedReflectivity composite, with countours of the ProbSevere parameter [click for link to HWT blog post]

MRMS MergedReflectivity composite, with countours of the ProbSevere parameter [click for link to HWT blog post]

A comparison of Aqua MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) and Infrared Window (11.0 µm) images along with the Total Precipitable Water derived product at 1836 UTC (below) showed that a few large thunderstorms had begun to develop by that time; TPW values were as high as 43 mm (1.7 inches) over far southwestern Georgia.

Aqua MODIS Visible (0.65 µm), Infrared Window (11.0 µm) and Total Precipitable Water images at 1836 UTC [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS Visible (0.65 µm), Infrared Window (11.0 µm) and Total Precipitable Water images at 1836 UTC [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) image, with plots of available NUCAPS soundings [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) image, with plots of available NUCAPS soundings [click to enlarge]

An overpass of the Suomi NPP satellite around 1850 UTC provided NUCAPS soundings in non-cloudy areas (above). One of the Good quality (green) NUCAPS soundings in the pre-storm environment was located over southwestern Georgia (circled in magenta) — it showed a Most Unstable CAPE value of 1264 J/kg, with a Lifted Index value of -4 (below).

NUCAPS sounding over southwestern Georgia [click to enlarge]

NUCAPS sounding over southwestern Georgia [click to enlarge]

The GOES-16 All Sky CAPE product (below) showed a trend of destabilization across southern Alabama and southern Georgia during the 5 hours leading up to the fatal tornadoes in Lee County AL.

GOES-16 All Sky CAPE product [click to play animation]

GOES-16 All Sky CAPE product [click to play animation]

===== 05 March Update =====

Comparison between Terra MODIS True Color and False Color RGB images on 24 February and 05 March 2019 [click to enlarge]

Comparison between Terra MODIS True Color and False Color RGB images on 24 February and 05 March 2019 [click to enlarge]

A toggle between before/after (24 February / 05 March 2019) Terra MODIS True Color and False Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images from the MODIS Today site (above) showed subtle evidence of portions of a tornado damage path — presumably that of the EF4 tornado that began in/near Lee County, Alabama and ended in far western Georgia. Click an additional time on the image to view at full magnification.

Sentinel-2 True Color images (below) provided a higher-resolution view of the tornado damage path. Imagery courtesy of Sentinel Hub.

Sentinel-2 True Color RGB images from 24 February and 06 March [click to enlarge]

Sentinel-2 True Color RGB images from 24 February and 06 March [click to enlarge]

Pyrocumulonimbus clouds in Western Australia

March 1st, 2019 |

Himawari-8

Himawari-8 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

Large bushfires burning in the southern portion of the state of Western Australia produced three pyroCumulonimbus (pyroCb) clouds on 01 March 2019. JMA Himawari-8 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images (above) showed that the pyroCb clouds drifted southeastward after formation.

Himawari-8 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.4 µm) images (below) further revealed the 3 distinct pyroCb pulses — 2 originating from the southernmost fire located near 29.5ºS / 124.4ºE, and a smaller one originating from a fire located farther to the northwest. Cloud-top infrared brightness temperatures cooled to the -59 to -63ºC range for the pair of larger pyroCbs (which was close to the tropopause temperature of -64ºC on Perth soundings: plot | data) with temperatures reaching -51ºC with the smaller northernmost pyroCb. Also apparent was a surge of cooler air moving northeastward behind a surface trough, whose arrival appeared to coincide with the pyroCb formation. A time series of surface data from Forrest (YFRT) clearly showed the arrival of the cool, moist air behind the trough.

Himawari-8 "Clean" Infrared Window (10.4 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

Himawari-8 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.4 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

Suomi NPP VIIRS True Color RGB and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images at 0537 UTC [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS True Color RGB and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images at 0537 UTC [click to enlarge]

As shown using RealEarth, an overpass of the Suomi NPP satellite provided a more detailed view of the first (and largest) pyroCb at 0537 UTC (above), with NOAA-20 capturing the second pyroCb cloud about an hour later at 0628 UTC (below). The coldest cloud-top infrared brightness temperature on the 0537 UTC Suomi NPP VIIRS image was -70ºC (darker black enhancement); in addition, there appeared to be an Above-Anvil Cirrus Plume associated with that pyroCb, extending southeastward from a subtle Enhanced-V signature at the upshear (northwestern) edge of the cloud (where the warmest temperature was -48ºC, green enhancement).

NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color RGB and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images at 0628 UTC [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 VIIRS True Color RGB and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images at 0628 UTC [click to enlarge]

On Himawari-8 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (below), the pyroCb clouds exhibited a warmer (darker gray) appearance compared to adjacent conventional cumulonimbus clouds — this is due to the fact that ice crystals ejected into the pyroCb anvils are smaller (due to their shorter residence time within the intense updrafts above the fires), and these smaller ice crystals are more effective reflectors of incoming solar radiation. The large flare-up of red-enhanced land during the day is due to highly reflective soils of the Great Victoria Desert that quickly become very hot.

Himawari-8 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

Himawari-8 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]