Severe weather outbreak across eastern Texas and the Deep South

April 13th, 2019 |

GOES-16

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

An outbreak of severe weather began in eastern Texas on the morning of 13 April 2019, where thunderstorms produced hail up to 3.0 inches in diameter, tornadoes and damaging winds (SPC storm reports). 1-minute Mesoscale Domain Sector GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images (above) showed the clusters of thunderstorms that developed as a surface low and associated frontal boundaries moved eastward (surface analyses). The corresponding GOES-16 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images (below) revealed numerous overshooting tops with infrared brightness temperatures as cold as -70 to -75ºC. In addition, the storm producing 3.0-inch hail and damaging winds at 1428 UTC exhibited an Above-Anvil Cirrus Plume (Visible/Infrared toggle).

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

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

A comparison of Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) and Infrared Window (11.0 µm) images at 1650 UTC is shown below.

Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) and Infrared Window (11.0 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) and Infrared Window (11.0 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Later in the day, the thunderstorms continued to produce a variety of severe weather as they moved eastward across Louisiana and Mississippi, as shown by GOES-16 Visible and Infrared images (below).

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

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

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

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

After sunset, the thunderstorms continued to move eastward, spreading more serve weather across Mississippi into Alabama and far southern Tennessee (below).

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

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

VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images from NOAA-20 and Suomi NPP (below) provided additional views of the storms as they were moving across Mississippi and Alabama. Several bright lightning streaks were evident on the Day/Night Band images. Note: the NOAA-20 image (downloaded and processed from the Direct Broadcast ground station at CIMSS) is incorrectly labeled as Suomi NPP.

VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images from Suomi NPP and NOAA-20 [click to enlarge]

VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images from NOAA-20 at 0645 UTC and Suomi NPP at 0734 UTC [click to enlarge]

On a NOAA-20 VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) image at 0825 UTC (below), an impressively-long (~400 mile) dark “post-saturation recovery streak” extended southeastward from where the detector sensed an area of very intense/bright lightning activity northeast of Mobile, Alabama.

NOAA-20 VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) image at 0825 UTC [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) image at 0825 UTC [click to enlarge]

Large-scale blowing dust event

April 10th, 2019 |

GOES-16 Split Window (10.3-12.3 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Split Window (10.3-12.3 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

Strong winds — gusting as high as 77 mph in New Mexico and 88 mph in Texas — associated with a rapidly-intensifying midlatitude cyclone generated large plumes of blowing dust (originating from southeastern Arizona,southern New Mexico, northern Mexico and western Texas) on 10 April 2019. GOES-16 (GOES-East) Split Window (10.3-12.3 µm) images (above) helped to highlight the areas of blowing dust, which initially developed along and behind a cold front after 15 UTC.

GOES-16 Split Window (10.3-12.3 µm) images, with hourly plots of surface winds and gusts [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Split Window (10.3-12.3 µm) images, with hourly plots of surface wind barbs and gusts [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Split Window images with hourly plots of surface wind barbs and gusts (above) showed the distribution of strong winds across the region, while plots of the surface visibility (below) showed decreases to 1/4 mile at Deming, New Mexico, 1/2 mile at Lubbock, Texas and 4 miles at Altus, Oklahoma.

GOES-16 Split Window (10.3-12.3 µm) images, with hourly plots of surface visibility [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Split Window (10.3-12.3 µm) images, with hourly plots of surface visibility [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 True Color Red-Green-Blue (RGB) images (below; courtesy of Rick Kohrs, SSEC) depicted the blowing dust as shades of tan to light brown. Willcox Playa was the source of the dust plume coming from southeastern Arizona. Note that the dust plume emanating from White Sands, New Mexico was lighter in appearance compared to the other tan/brown-colored areas of blowing dust — this is due to the white gypsum sand that comprises the surface of White Sands National Monument.

GOES-16 True Color RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 True Color RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

250-meter resolution MODIS True Color RGB images from the MODIS Today site (below) provided a more detailed view of the plume streaming northeastward from its White Sands source. On the later Aqua image, dense tan-colored areas of blowing dust had developed below the thin higher-altitude veil of brighter gypsum aerosols that had earlier been lofted from White Sands.

MODIS True Color RGB images from Terra and Aqua [click to enlarge]

MODIS True Color RGB images from Terra and Aqua [click to enlarge]

A NOAA-20 True Color RGB image viewed using RealEarth is shown below. 19 UTC surface observations at 3 sites near White Sands included Las Cruces KLRU (visibility 3 miles, wind gusting to 46 knots), Alamogordo KALM (visibility 3 miles, wind gusting to 43 knots) and Ruidoso KSRR (visibility 5 miles, wind gusting to 55 knots). The strong winds and dense areas of blowing dust reducing surface visibility not only impacted ground transportation but also posed a hazard to aviation.

NOAA-20 True Color RGB image at 1928 UTC [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 True Color RGB image at 1928 UTC [click to enlarge]

===== 11 April Update =====

In a larger-scale view of GOES-16 Split Window images (below), the yellow dust signature could be followed during the subsequent overnight hours and into the following day on 11 April, as the aerosols were being transported northeastward across the Upper Midwest. There were widespread reports and photos of dust residue on vehicles and tan/brown-colored snow in parts of Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

GOES-16 Split Window (10.3-12.3 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Split Window (10.3-12.3 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

IDEA forward trajectories (below) — initialized from a cluster of elevated Aura OMI Aerosol Index points over Mexico, New Mexico and Texas — passed directly over areas of model-derived precipitation across the Upper Midwest, providing further support of precipitation scavenging of dust aerosols. Interestingly, a similar event of long range dust transport occurred on 10-11 April 2008.

IDEA forward trajectories initialized from a cluster of elevated Aqua MODIS Aerosol Optical Depth points over NM/TX [click to play animation]

IDEA forward trajectories initialized from a cluster of elevated Aqua MODIS Aerosol Optical Depth points over NM/TX [click to play animation]

HYSPLIT model 24-hour forward trajectories initialized at 3 locations — El Paso, Lubbock and Amarillo in Texas — showed a few of the likely dust transport pathways toward the Upper Midwest at 3 different levels (below).

HYSPLIT model forward trajectories initialized at El Paso, Lubbock and Amarillo, Texas [click to enlarge]

HYSPLIT model 24-hour forward trajectories initialized at El Paso, Lubbock and Amarillo, Texas [click to enlarge]

GOES-16 True Color RGB images from the AOS site (below) showed that some clouds across the Upper Midwest exhibited a subtle light brown hue at times.

GOES-16 True Color RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 True Color RGB images [click to play animation | MP4]

===== 12 April Update =====

GOES-16 Split Window (10.3-12.3 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Split Window (10.3-12.3 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Split Window (10.3-12.3 µm) images (above) showed that the yellow signature of dust aerosols aloft had wrapped all the way around the southern and eastern sectors of the occluded low on 12 April.

Ground-based lidar at the University of Wisconsin – Madison confirmed the presence of elevated levels of aerosol loading between the surface and 6 km.

Lidar aerosol class [click to enlarge]

Lidar aerosol class [click to enlarge]

Hurricane Force low off the US East Coast

April 2nd, 2019 |

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

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

1-minute Mesoscale Domain Sector GOES-16 (GOES-East) “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images (above) showed a cluster of deep convection just to the north of the center of a rapidly-intensifying midlatitude cyclone (surface analyses) off the coast of North Carolina on 02 April 2019. In addition, convection was later seen developing along the north-south cloud band marking the leading edge of the cyclone’s cold front. The rapid deepening of this hurricane force low easily met the criteria of a bomb cyclone — its central pressure dropped 20 hPa in just 12 hours (from 1004 hPa at 18 UTC on 02 April to 984 hPa at 06 UTC on 03 April).

The primary convective cluster began to exhibit a large amount of lightning after 1830 UTC, as seen in plots of GOES-16 GLM Groups (below). To the east of this intensifying convection, one ship report at 18 UTC included winds from the east at 50 knots — in addition, a moderate to heavy shower of hail was being reported and their surface visibility was restricted to 1.25 miles (18 UTC surface analysis).

GOES-16 "Red" Visible (0.64 µm) images, with GLM Groups and surface wind gusts plotted in red [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) images, with GLM Groups and surface wind gusts plotted in red [click to play animation | MP4

There were several factors pointing to the development of a sting jet with this storm, as discussed here and here. GOES-16 Low-level (7.3 µm), Mid-level (6.9 µm) and Upper-level (6.2 µm) Water Vapor images (below) revealed distinct areas of warming/drying (darker shades of yellow to orange) that possibly highlighted rapidly-descending air associated with a sting jet (for example, on the 1946 UTC images).

GOES-16 Low-level (7.3 µm), Mid-level (6.9 µm) and Upper-level (6.2 µm) Water Vapor images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Low-level (7.3 µm), Mid-level (6.9 µm) and Upper-level (6.2 µm) Water Vapor images [click to play animation | MP4]

After 23 UTC, GOES-16 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images (below) portrayed the formation of a large eye-like feature indicative of a warm seclusion (00 UTC surface analysis). Lightning activity remained very high during that time.

GOES-16 "Clean" Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-16 “Clean” Infrared Window (10.3 µm) images [click to play animation | MP4]


A comparison between 1-km resolution Terra MODIS Infrared Window (11.0 µm) imagery at 0237 UTC with an Aqua MODIS Sea Surface Temperature product at 1755 UTC on the following afternoon (below) showed that the storm intensified and formed the large eye-like feature over the northern portion of the axis of warmest Gulf Stream water (where SST values were in the 70-76ºF range).

Terra and Aqua MODIS Infrared Window (11.0 µm) images from 0237 UTC and 0649 UTC, along with the Aqua MODIS Sea Surface Temperature product at 1755 UTC [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS Infrared Window (11.0 µm) image at 0237 UTC, along with the 1755 UTC Aqua MODIS Sea Surface Temperature product [click to enlarge]

With a nighttime overpass of the NOAA-20 satellite at 0651 UTC, the eye-like feature was apparent in VIIRS Infrared Window (11.45 µm) and Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) images (below). Although the Moon was in the Waning Crescent phase (at only 8% of Full), that illumination with the aid of airglow was sufficient to provide a useful “visible image at night” using the Day/Night Band; a streak of bright pixels was due to intense lightning activity within a line of thunderstorms just ahead of the cold front. Note: the NOAA-20 images are incorrectly labeled as Suomi NPP.

NOAA-20 VIIRS Infrared Window (11.45 µµ) and Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) images [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 VIIRS Infrared Window (11.45 µm) and Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) images, with an overlay of the 06 UTC surface analysis [click to enlarge]

Spring Hill Fire in New Jersey

March 31st, 2019 |

GOES-16 Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm, left), Near-Infrared “Cloud Particle Size” (2.24 µm, center) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, right) images [click to play animation | MP4]

GOES-16 Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm, left), Near-Infrared “Cloud Particle Size” (2.24 µm, center) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, right) images [click to play animation | MP4]

The Spring Hill Fire began to burn in central New Jersey around 1745 UTC (1:45 PM EDT) on 30 March 2019. GOES-16 (GOES-East) Near-Infrared “Snow/Ice” (1.61 µm), Near-Infrared “Cloud Particle Size” (2.24 µm) and Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (above) showed the hot thermal signature of the fire as it burned into the subsequent nighttime hours and the following morning. Smoke from the fire drifted northeastward, reducing the surface visibility at Lakehurst Naval Air Station (KNEL), Toms River (KMJX) and Belmar (KBLM).

GOES-16 also initially viewed this area with 1-minute imagery from 1700-1859 UTC (since the Mesoscale Sector #1 normally covers New Jersey), and first displayed a fire hot spot around 1745 UTC. The animation below shows Visible imagery (0.64 µm), with Shortwave Infrared imagery in the background. One-minute data was valuable during these two hours because the rapidly moving clouds occasionally allowed brief views of the surface. It’s also easier to identify the smoke plume as a coherent structure with a 1-minute cadence (vs. the 5-minute cadence available with CONUS scans). At 1900 UTC, GOES-16 Mesoscale Sector #1 was repositioned to cover developing convection over the mid-Mississippi River Valley, so 1-minute views of New Jersey were terminated.

GOES-16 “Red” Visible (0.64 µm) imagery, with Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) pixels displayed through the semi-transparent visible images [click to play animation | MP4]

The GOES Fire Detection and Characterization Algorithm (the Baseline fire-detection product) is shown below. This product is not computed in Mesoscale Domains, so only CONUS imagery with a 5-minute cadence is shown. The widespread cloud cover affected the signal, but the fire was still detected. Note that the Fire Power product identified the fire pixels more frequently (consider the 1832 UTC image, for example).

GOES-16 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm, upper left), GOES Fire Temperature (upper right), GOES Fire Area (lower right) and GOES Fire Power (lower left) [click to play animation | MP4]

The rapid growth of the fire thermal signature was apparent in a sequence of 3 daytime and 3 nighttime VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) images from NOAA-20 and Suomi NPP (below). Note: some of the NOAA-20 images — 1750 UTC on 30 March, along with 0609 and 0749 UTC on 31 March — are incorrectly labeled as Suomi NPP.

NOAA-20 and Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) images [click to enlarge]

NOAA-20 and Suomi NPP VIIRS Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Signatures of the fire were also seen in a comparison of Suomi NPP VIIRS Near-Infrared (1.61 µm and 2.24 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) images (below, courtesy of William Straka, CIMSS).

Suomi NPP VIIRS Near-Infrared (1.61 µm and 2.24 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Near-Infrared (1.61 µm and 2.24 µm), Shortwave Infrared (3.74 µm) and Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) images [click to enlarge]


===== 01 April Update =====

Terra MODIS True Color and False Color images on 01 April [cick to enlarge]

Terra MODIS True Color and False Color RGB images on 01 April [click to enlarge]

In a comparison of Terra MODIS True Color and False Color RGB images on 01 April from the MODIS Today site (above) the fire burn scar was evident in the False Color image.

The appearance of the burn scar was also seen in a before/after toggle between Terra MODIS False Color RGB images on 27 March and 01 April (below).

Terra MODIS False Color RGB images on 28 March and 01 April [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS False Color RGB images on 28 March and 01 April [click to enlarge]

A closer view of the 01 April Terra MODIS False Color RGB image using RealEarth (below) showed that the northeastern edge of the burn scar was near Route 72 (which had to be closed as the fire was being contained), and may have threatened structures at Coyle Field.

Terra MODIS False Color RGB and Google Maps background images [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS False Color RGB and Google Maps background images [click to enlarge]

===== 08 April Update =====

Landsat-8 False Color RGB image, with Google Maps background [click to enlarge]

Landsat-8 False Color RGB image, with Google Maps background [click to enlarge]

A 30-meter resolution Landsat-8 False Color RGB image from 08 April (above) provided a very detailed view of the Spring Hill Fire burn scar. It suggested that the fire did cross Route 72 at Coyle Field.