GOES-13 views rocket launch explosion at Wallops Island Virginia

October 28th, 2014
GOES-13 3.9 µm shortwave infrared channel images (click to enlarge)

GOES-13 3.9 µm shortwave infrared channel images (click to enlarge)

The launch of an Antares rocket from Wallops Island, Virginia, failed on October 28th (NASA Statement on the failure). The thermal signature from the explosion and fire is evident in the animation of GOES-13 3.9 µm imagery above, within the red circle: the IR brightness temperature was 292.2K on the 22:30 UTC image (darker black pixel), compared to 286.9 and 286.7 K on the 22:15 UTC and 22:45 UTC images, respectively. The nominal time of the satellite image with the warm pixel is 22:30; however, the actual satellite scan time at Wallops Island’s latitude is 22:33 UTC. The launch was at 22:22 UTC.

On a side note, another feature that stands out in the GOES-13 3.9 µm images is the warm signature (darker black enhancement) of the waters of the Gulf Stream. A comparison of the Suomi NPP VIIRS Sea Surface Temperature product at 06:47 UTC (2:47 am local time) and 18:11 UTC (2:11 pm local time), below, showed a number of eddy features along the edges of the warm (darker red) Gulf Stream.  Strong winds associated with a Nor’easter storm several days earlier helped to create these eddies.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Sea Surface Temperature product (click to enlarge)

Suomi NPP VIIRS Sea Surface Temperature product (click to enlarge)

Airborne glacial silt from the Copper River Valley in Alaska

October 28th, 2014
GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel images (click to play animation)

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

McIDAS images of GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel data (above; click image to play animation) showed the hazy signature of airborne glacial silt drifting southward out of the Copper River valley and over the adjacent waters of the Gulf of Alaska on 28 October 2014. The strong winds lofting the silt were very localized to the Copper River valley itself, with cold dense arctic air from further inland (air temperatures were 8 to 10º F at Gulkana, PAGV) accelerating through narrow mountain passes — note how winds at nearby Cordova (PACV) were generally calm during much of the period. As the western edge of the airborne silt reached Middleton Island (PAMD), the surface visibility dropped as low as 5 miles.

AWIPS II images of Suomi NPP VIIRS data provided a better view of the aerial coverage of the glacial silt: a comparison of VIIRS 0.64 µm visible channel and 1.61 µm near-IR “snow/ice channel” images (below) showed that the 1.61 µm image offered better contrast to help locate the edges of the feature.

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.4 µm visible channel and 1.61 µm near-IR

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.4 µm visible channel and 1.61 µm near-IR “snow/ice channel” images

Two consecutive VIIRS 1.61 µm images (below) revealed the changes in aerosol coverage between 21:43 UTC and 23:22 UTC.

Suomi NPP VIIRS 1.61 µm near-IR

Suomi NPP VIIRS 1.61 µm near-IR “snow/ice channel” images

The more dense portion of the airborne glacial silt particle feature exhibited a slightly warmer (darker gray) appearance on VIIRS 3.74 µm shortwave IR images, due to efficient reflection of incoming solar radiation.

Suomi NPP VIIRS 3.74 µm shortwave IR images

Suomi NPP VIIRS 3.74 µm shortwave IR images

A VIIRS true-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) image from the SSEC RealEarth site (below) offered a good view of the coverage of the glacial silt at 21:45 UTC.

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color image

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color image

An extratropical storm containing the remnants of Ana makes landfall in North America

October 27th, 2014
GOES-15 6.5 µm water vapor channel images (click to play animation)

GOES-15 6.5 µm water vapor channel images (click to play animation)

A strong storm that contains the remnants of former central Pacific Hurricane Ana began to make landfall along the West Coast of North America on 27 October 2014 (12 UTC surface analysis). The 17-day animation of GOES-15 6.5 µm Water Vapor channel imagery, above, shows Ana emerging out of the Intertropical Convergence Zone, skirting south of Hawai’i, weakening and meandering in the central Pacific (showing the effects of strong vertical wind shear), briefly reaching Hurricane intensity again on 25 October, and eventually moving eastward after having been picked up and absorbed by a strong system in the Westerlies. Recurving tropical systems can sometimes be prolific rain producers in the mid-latitudes; however, the animation of MIMIC Total Precipitable Water, below, suggests that most of the tropical moisture that was associated with Ana was no longer present.

MIMIC Total Precipitable Water for 72 hours ending 1200 UTC 27 October 2014 (click to enlarge)

MIMIC Total Precipitable Water for 72 hours ending 1200 UTC 27 October 2014 (click to enlarge)

The annotated animation below shows 1200 UTC imagery from 11-27 October. The red arrow points to Ana, either as a developing tropical cyclone, Hurricane, or post-tropical system. An animation without the red arrow is here.

GOES-15 6.5 µm water vapor channel images (click to play animation)

GOES-15 6.5 µm water vapor channel images (click to play animation)

Shadow of partial solar eclipse

October 23rd, 2014
GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel images

GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel images

McIDAS images of GOES-15 (GOES-West) 0.63 µm visible channel data (above) showed the west-to-east progression of the lunar umbra (the Moon’s shadow) from a partial solar eclipse that occurred on 23 October 2014. The shadow was most obvious across the northern portion of the images, moving over Alaska, the Gulf of Alaska, western/northern Canada, and the far northwestern portion of the Lower 48 States of the US. The partial eclipse shadow could also be seen on GOES-13 (GOES-East) 0.63 µm visible channel images (below).

GOES-13 0.63 µm visible channel images

GOES-13 0.63 µm visible channel images

According to EarthSky.org the point of greatest eclipse (75% coverage of the solar disk by the Moon) was near Prince of Wales Island, Nunavut, Canada at 21:44 UTC. In a sequence of before, during, and after-eclipse AWIPS images of Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible channel data (below), a darkening of Canada’s Yukon Territory — which covered most of the center portion of the images — could be seen.

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible channel images

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible channel images