Dolphin acquires an eye

May 15th, 2015
Himawari-8 11.22 µm infrared channel images (click to play animation)

Himawari-8 11.22 µm infrared channel images (click to play animation)

Himawari-8 infrared imagery (above, at 2.5-minute time steps and available here as an mp4) shows the development of an eye in Typhoon Dolphin shortly after 1400 UTC when the storm was northwest of Guam. With the subsequent arrival of daylight, mesovortices were clearly seen within the eye on 2.5-minute interval rapid scan visible images (animated gif | mp4 movie file).

About 2 hours prior to eye formation, a Metop satellite overpass allowed the ASCAT instrument to provide surface scatterometer winds of Typhoon Dolphin, overlaid on a MIMIC Total Precipitable Water (TPW) image (below; TPW animation). The maximum TPW values were in the 60-65 mm or 2.4-2.6 inch range, and the highest ASCAT wind value was 68 knots in the eastern eyewall region of the storm.

MIMIC TPW product, with an overlay of Metop ASCAT surface scatterometer winds

MIMIC TPW product, with an overlay of Metop ASCAT surface scatterometer winds

During the preceding daylight hours as Category 2 intensity Typhoon Dolphin was approaching Guam, rapid-scan (2.5-minute interval) 0.5-km resolution Himawari-8 0.64 µm visible channel images (below; click image to play animation; also available as an mp4 movie file) revealed a number of large convective bursts — but no eye was yet apparent. As the center of Dolphin passed between the islands of Guam and Rota, the peak wind gust was 70 knots at Agana, Guam (PGUM) and 92 knots at Anderson Air Force Base, Guam (PGUA).

Himawari-8 0.64 µm visible channel images (click to play animation)

Himawari-8 0.64 µm visible channel images (click to play animation)

Typhoon Dolphin approaches Guam

May 14th, 2015
Himawari-8 11.22 µm infrared channel images (click to play animation)

Himawari-8 11.22 µm infrared channel images (click to play animation)

The animation above (available here as an mp4, and here on YouTube) shows 11.22 µm infrared imagery at 2.5-minute time steps (bottom) and 10-minute time steps (top) from Himawari-8 on 14 May 2015. Category 2 intensity Typhoon Dolphin is approaching Guam, seen at the left edge of both panels in the frame. The 2.5-minute imagery gives a much better indication of the quick rise and decay of overshooting tops (IR brightness temperatures of the storm tops approach -95º C!). A 10-minute time step cannot fully resolve the evolution of these features. The 2.5-minute time step also better captures the divergent flow (and outward-propagating gravity waves) at the top of the central dense overcast. No eye was yet apparent in the infrared imagery, or on DMSP SSMI 85 GHz microwave imagery.

A similar animation from the previous day, 13 May, is shown here: gif, mp4, YouTube. The better organization of the storm on 14 May is readily apparent.

How high are the clouds in the Central Dense Overcast (CDO)? Cloud Heights are available from CLAVR-x (Clouds from AVHRR Extended). Data from Geostationary Satellites are processed and are available to download here. Values from COMS-1 and from MTSAT-2 (displayed with McIDAS-V) suggest maximum cloud heights near 55,500 feet.

The MIMIC Total Precipitable Water (TPW) product, below, showed that Typhoon Dolphin was able to tap rich moisture from the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) during the 13-14 May period; TPW values within the tropical cyclone circulation were often in the 60-65 mm or 2.5-2.6 inch range (darker red color enhancement).

MIMIC Total Preciptable Water product (click to play animation)

MIMIC Total Preciptable Water product (click to play animation)

Visible Imagery from Himawari-8, just after sunrise on 15 May, show continuous development of short-lived overshooting tops to the east of Guam. More information on the storm is available at the CIMSS Tropical Cyclones site, the JMA Tropical Cyclone site and the Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

Himawari-8 0.6363 µm visible channel images (click to play animation)

Himawari-8 0.6363 µm visible channel images (click to play animation)

Tropical Disturbance off the Southeast US Coast

May 7th, 2015
GOES-13 0.63 µm Visible images (click to play animation)

GOES-13 0.63 µm Visible images (click to play animation)

A disorganized subtropical system (Invest Area 90L) located over the southwest Atlantic to the east of Georgia and north of the Bahamas has the potential to become the first named system of the 2015 Atlantic Tropical Season (if named as a subtropical storm, this would be Ana). Visible imagery, above, shows a low-level swirl that is separated from any convection. However, during the 6 hours of the animation, the low-level swirl moves westward, moving more closely to active convection over the Gulf Stream. [Update, 2100 UTC 7 May: later images in the visible animation, above, showed strong convection developing over the surface circulation; another visible image animation with ship reports can be seen here]

Sea-surface temperatures (link) and wind shear (link) from the CIMSS Tropical Cyclones site show nominal conditions for strengthening.

MetOp-A passed over the southeast United States just after 1500 UTC on 7 May. The ASCAT scatterometer data (below) show a well-defined low-level circulation (with most winds just below tropical storm force) south and east of the deepest convection off the South Carolina/Georgia coasts.

ASCAT_07May2015

ASCAT winds from Metop-A and GOES-13 10.7 µm imagery, both near 1500 UTC on 7 May 2015; Surface observations from Fixed Buoys are also plotted (click to enlarge)

Suomi NPP overflew this system at 0700 UTC on 7 May, and imagery from the VIIRS Day/Night Band gave information that allowed a definitive estimate of the location of a low-level circulation. A comparison of the 0702 imagery, below, and the 1826 UTC imagery, following, shows changes in the organization and vertical structure of the developing system.

ASCAT_07May2015

Suomi NPP 11.45 µm infrared and 0.70 µm DayNight band visible imagery at 0702 UTC on 7 May 2015 (click to enlarge)

ASCAT_07May2015

As above, but at 1826 UTC on 7 May 2015 (click to enlarge)

Suomi NPP 1.61 µm near-infrared imagery can be used during the day to identify cirrus clouds: ice particles absorb (and do not reflect) radiation in these near-infrared wavelengths, but water droplets reflect. Thus, ice clouds appear dark. In the visible, both water and ice clouds are bright. The toggle below shows the 1.61 and the Visible imagery from Suomi-NPP.

ASCAT_07May2015

Suomi NPP 1.61 µm near-infrared and 0.65 µm visible imagery at 1826 UTC on 7 May 2015 (click to enlarge)

At 2006 UTC, the International Space Station’s RapidScat instrument provided surface scatterometer winds (below) that depicted the broad circulation of Invest AL90; the strongest winds were located farther away from the center of the feature.

GOES-13 0.63 µm visible image with an overlay of RapidScat surface scatterometer winds

GOES-13 0.63 µm visible image with an overlay of RapidScat surface scatterometer winds

08 May Update: Invest Area AL90 was upgraded to Subtropical Storm Ana by the National Hurricane Center around 02 UTC. A Terra MODIS 11.0 µm IR image at 0249 UTC is shown below, with overlays of the MSLP analysis, buoy reports, and RTMA surface winds.

Terra MODIS 11.0 µm IR channel image, with MSLP analysis, buoy reports, and RTMA surface wind analysis

Terra MODIS 11.0 µm IR channel image, with MSLP analysis, buoy reports, and RTMA surface wind analysis

A few hours later, a 0643 UTC comparison of Suomi NPP VIIRS 11.45 µm IR and 0.7 µm “visible image at night” Day/Night Band data is shown below.

Suomi NPP VIIRS 11.45 µm IR and 0.7 µm Day/Night Band images

Suomi NPP VIIRS 11.45 µm IR and 0.7 µm Day/Night Band images

For more information on this system, see the National Hurricane Center website.

Himawari-8 imagery of Tropical Depression 24S / Cyclone Quang northwest of Australia

April 28th, 2015
Himawari-8 11.22 µm infrared imagery, 0000 - 1830 UTC on 28 April 2015 (click to play animation)

Himawari-8 11.22 µm infrared imagery, 0000 – 1830 UTC on 28 April 2015 (click to play animation)

The 10-minute full-disk imagery that is available from Himawari-8 captures the evolution of Tropical Depression 24S northwest of Australia. Convection is evolving on time-scales of 10 minutes or less, so the high temporal resolution is vital to describing the storm evolution. Of particular note are the development (and decay) of central dense overcast features near the storm center, which have a timescale of less than 30 minutes. Note also the well-developed outflow channel curving anticyclonically to the south and east of the storm.

Sea surface temperature fields (from this site) show very warm ocean waters (SSTs exceed 30º C). Wind shear over the system is small; strengthening is expected.

29 April Update: As anticipated, Tropical Depression 24S continued to intensify, becoming Tropical Storm Quang. A comparison of an MTSAT-2 visible image at 0132 UTC with an overlay of 0135 UTC ASCAT scatterometer winds, below, shows surface winds in the 40.0-45.9 knot range (yellow) in both the western and eastern hemispheres of the storm. A large convective burst (with overshooting tops) was apparent on the visible image, just south of the center of Quang.

MTSAT-2 visible image with ASCAT surface scatterometer winds

MTSAT-2 visible image with ASCAT surface scatterometer winds

Himawari-8 Infrared imagery on 29 April show eye development between 1600 and 1800 UTC. Quang was upgraded to a Cyclone at 1800 UTC. (Link)

Himawari-8 11.22 µm infrared imagery, 0000 - 1830 UTC on 29 April 2015 (click to play animation)

Himawari-8 11.22 µm infrared imagery, 0000 – 1830 UTC on 29 April 2015 (click to play animation)

The scanning strategy of the current operational MTSAT satellites is such that the Southern Hemisphere only receives 1 image per hour. The Himawari-8 satellite performs a Full Disk scan every 10 minutes — and as an MTSAT-2 10.8 µm IR vs Himawari-8 10.4 µm IR image comparison demonstrates (below; click image to play animation; also available as an MP4 movie file), the improved Himawari-8 spatial resolution (2 km vs 4 km) and more frequent scans allowed the formation of the eye of Quang to be more accurately followed as it rapidly intensified from a Tropical Storm to a Category 4 Severe Cyclone. A nighttime comparison of Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band and Infrared images on 29 April/1820 UTC (30 April/02:20 AM local time) can be seen here.

MTSAT-2 10.8 µm (top) and Himawari-8 10.4 µm (bottom) IR images  [click to play animation]

MTSAT-2 10.8 µm (top) and Himawari-8 10.4 µm (bottom) IR images [click to play animation]