Flooding in Southern California

January 9th, 2018 |

1-minute GOES-16 Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images; with hourly reports of surface weather type plotted in yellow [click to play MP4 animation]

1-minute GOES-16 Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images; with hourly reports of surface weather type plotted in red [click to play MP4 animation]

An onshore flow of moisture (MIMIC TPW) in tandem with forcing for ascent with the approach of an upper-level low and a surface cold/occluded front brought heavy rainfall and some higher-elevation snowfall (NWS LOX/SGX | WPC) to much of Southern California on 09 January 2018. To help monitor the event, a GOES-16 (GOES-East) Mesoscale Sector was positioned over the region, providing images at 1-minute intervals. “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images (above) showed the colder clouds associated with periods of moderate to heavy rainfall. Some of this precipitation fell over burn scar areas from wildfires that occurred in December 2017 — including the Thomas fire, which was the largest on record for the state of California — resulting in numerous mud/debris slides that caused at least 17 fatalities, destroyed/damaged hundreds of homes, and closed many streets and highways.

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images (below) showed some of the features which helped produce heavier rainfall and snowfall during the daylight hours on 09 January.

1-minute GOES-16

1-minute GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images; with hourly reports of surface weather type plotted in red [click to play MP4 animation]

The circulation of the upper-level low was easily seen on GOES-16 Mid-level Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images (below).

1-minute GOES-16 Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images; with hourly reports of surface weather type plotted in red [click to play MP4 animation]

1-minute GOES-16 Water Vapor (6.9 µm) images; with hourly reports of surface weather type plotted in red [click to play MP4 animation]

===== 10 January Update =====

Suomi NPP VIIRS True-color and False-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS True-color and False-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

On the following day, a toggle between Suomi NPP VIIRS True-color and False-color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images from RealEarth (above) showed (1) the large burn scar from the Thomas Fire (shades of reddish-brown), and (2) snow cover in the higher terrain (darker shades of cyan) on the False-color image. The True-color image revealed sediment from runoff flowing into the nearshore waters from Santa Barbara to Oxnard (shades of brown to light green).

A closer look at the Thomas Fire burn scar was provided by 30-meter resolution Landsat-8 False-color RGB imagery (below), which showed thin filaments of muddy sediment just offshore, as well as fresh snow cover (shades of cyan) along or immediately adjacent to the northeastern edge of the burn scar (in the Hines Peak area). On 10 January, the fire was listed as 92% contained (100% containment was declared on 12 January).

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

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

===== 11 January Update =====

Suomi NPP VIIRS True-color images on 10 January and 11 January [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS True-color images on 10 January and 11 January [click to enlarge]

A comparison of Suomi NPP VIIRS True-color RGB images on 10 January and 11 January (above) showed that sediment was flowing farther offshore from the Thomas Fire burn scar area.

Farther to the south, offshore sediment transport was also seen in the San Diego area (below).

Suomi NPP VIIRS True-color image on 11 January [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS True-color image on 11 January [click to enlarge]

Ice floes in Chesapeake Bay

January 7th, 2018 |

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

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

In the wake of the explosive cyclogenesis off the East Coast of the US on 04 January 2018, very cold air began to spread across much of the eastern half of the Lower 48 states. Focusing on the Hampton Roads area of southeastern Virginia, satellite imagery began to show the formation of ice in the rivers and bays. On 06 January, a 30-meter resolution Landsat-8 false-color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) image viewed using RealEarth (above) revealed some of this ice — in particular, long narrow ice floes (snow and ice appear as shades of cyan) that likely emerged from the Back River (northeast of Hampton) and were drifting northward and southward just off the coast of the Virginia Peninsula.

On the following day (07 January), 250-meter resolution Terra MODIS true-color and false-color RGB images from the MODIS Today site (below) showed that a larger V-shaped ice floe was located just southeast of the Peninsula, with its vertex pointed toward the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel (HRBT). Snow and ice also appear as shades of cyan in the MODIS false-color image.

Terra MODIS true-color and false-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS true-color and false-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

07 January also happened to be the last full day of imagery to be broadcast by the GOES-13 satellite — a comparison of 1-minute Mesoscale Sector GOES-16 (GOES-East) Visible (0.64 µm) and 15-30 minute interval GOES-13 Visible (0.63 µm) images (below) showed that the V-shaped ice floe continued to drift southwestward toward the HRBT. However, it was difficult to tell whether the ice feature made it over and past the tunnel; even with the improved GOES-16 Visible spatial resolution (0.5 km at satellite sub-point, compared to 1.0 km for GOES-13) and the 1-minute rapid image scans, the ice floe became harder to track during the afternoon hours before high clouds began to overspread the region.

"GOES-16

GOES-16 Visible (0.64 µm, left) and GOES-13 Visible (0.63 µm, right) images, with hourly surface air temperatures (ºF) plotted in yellow [click to play MP4 animation]

However, a close examination of Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color and false-color images at 1826 UTC (below) indicated that some of the ice had indeed moved westward past Fort Monroe (on the far southeastern tip of the Peninsula) and over/past the HRBT.

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color and false-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color and false-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

On the topic of cold temperatures in southeastern Virginia, a new daily record low of -3 ºF was set at Richmond on the morning of 07 January, and at Norfolk new daily record low and record low maximum temperatures were set (10 ºF and 23 ºF, respectively).

Nighttime views of lake effect snow bands over Lake Superior

January 6th, 2018 |

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) images, with morning minimum temperatures at Embarrass, Minnesota [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) images, with morning minimum temperatures at Embarrass, Minnesota [click to enlarge]

Shown above are detailed nighttime views of multiple lake effect snow (LES) bands over Lake Superior, provided by Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) images on 04 January, 05 January and 06 January 2018. These “visible images at night” were possible due to ample illumination by the Moon, which was in the Waning Gibbous phase (at 92% of Full on 04 January, 84% of Full on 05 January and 75% of Full on 06 January). The continued flow of arctic air across the still-unfrozen waters of Lake Superior (and the other unfrozen Great Lakes) was responsible for the formation of these and a variety of other LES bands.

For perspective, the daily morning minimum temperatures at Embarrass, Minnesota are also plotted on the images — on these 3 days Embarrass was the coldest official site in the US (including Alaska).

The VIIRS images were captured by the Space Science and Engineering Center direct broadcast ground station.

Satellite signatures of a “sting jet”

January 4th, 2018 |

GOES-16 Lower-level (7.3 µm) images, with hourly plots of buoy and ship reports [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 Lower-level (7.3 µm) images, with hourly plots of buoy and ship reports [click to play MP4 animation]

Satellite signatures of a phenomenon known as a “sting jet” have been shown previously on this blog here, here and here. GOES-16 (GOES-East) Lower-level (7.3 µm) Water Vapor images (above) revealed another classic example of the “scorpion tail” signature of a sting jet associated with the rapidly-intensifying storm off the coast of North Carolina on 04 January 2018.

The passenger cruise ship Norwegian Breakaway was en route to New York City from the Bahamas when it experienced very strong winds and rough seas early in the morning on 04 January (media story) — it appears as though the ship may have been in the general vicinity of this sting jet feature (ship data), where intense winds were descending to the surface from higher levels of the atmosphere:

A comparison of GOES-16 (GOES-East) and GOES-13 Water Vapor images (below) demonstrated how the GOES-16 improvement in spatial resolution  (2 km at satellite sub-point, vs 4 km for GOES-13) and more frequent imaging (routinely every 5 minutes over the CONUS domain, vs 15-30 minutes for GOES-13) helped to better follow the evolution of the sting jet feature. The 2 known locations of the Norwegian Breakaway around the time period of the image animation are plotted in red.

"Water

Water Vapor images from GOES-16 (6.9 µm, left) and GOES-13 (6.5 µm, right), with the 2 known locations of the Norwegian Breakaway plotted in red [click to play MP4 animation]

The sting jet signature was also apparent on GOES-16 Mid-level (6.9 µm) and Upper-level (6.2 µm) Water Vapor images (below).

GOES-16 Mid-level (6.9 µm) images, with hourly plots of buoy and ship reports [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 Mid-level (6.9 µm) images, with hourly plots of buoy and ship reports [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 Upper-level (6.2 µm) images, with hourly plots of buoy and ship reports [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 Upper-level (6.2 µm) images, with hourly plots of buoy and ship reports [click to play MP4 animation]

In addition, the sting jet signature was evident in a Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) image at 0614 UTC or 1:14 AM Eastern time (below). Through the clouds, the faint glow of city lights in far eastern North Carolina could be seen along the left edge of the image. The cloud features shown using the “visible image at night” VIIRS Day/Night Band were brightly-illuminated by the Moon, which was in the Waning Gibbous phase at 92% of Full. A VIIRS instrument is aboard the JPSS series of satellites, such as the recently-launched NOAA-20.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) image [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) image [click to enlarge]

Another view of the sting jet signature was seen in a 250-meter resolution Aqua MODIS Infrared Window (11.0 µm) image at 0725 UTC (below).

Aqua MODIS Infrared Window (11.0 µm) image [click to enlarge]

Aqua MODIS Infrared Window (11.0 µm) image [click to enlarge]