Can you use the VIIRS Day/Night Band to know where heavy rain is falling?

August 19th, 2014
Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band at 0659 UTC and 0838 UTC, 19 August 2014 (click to enlarge)

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band at 0659 UTC and 0838 UTC, 19 August 2014 (click to enlarge)

The VIIRS Day/Night Band image toggle above shows nighttime cloud cover over southern Wisconsin associated with a line of deep convection; note how some city lights are not seen (Madison WI KMSN at 0659 UTC, and Milwaukee WI KMKE at 0838 UTC). There are several reasons this may have happened. For example, the convection could have knocked out power over a large region (this did not happen). Scattering associated with the thick convective clouds may have attenuated the city light so much that it could not be detected.

The toggle below of the corresponding VIIRS 11.45 µm Infrared imagery shows very cold cloud tops (-60º to -70º C, near the tropopause) over Madison at 0659 UTC (the observation at 0653 UTC at the Madison airport was Heavy Rain with a Thunderstorm) and over Milwaukee at 0838 UTC (when the Milwaukee airport was having Moderate Rain; they received a half-inch of rain between 0753 and 0853 UTC). The combination of the thick convective cloud and especially the heavy rain is very likely why city lights cannot be seen at certain times, as liquid water is an excellent absorber of visible light. This radar image (from this story) shows the areal extent of the heavy rain at 0745 UTC on 19 August.

Suomi NPP VIIRS 11.45 µm Infrared imagery  at 0659 UTC and 0838 UTC, 19 August 2014 (click to enlarge)

Suomi NPP VIIRS 11.45 µm Infrared imagery at 0659 UTC and 0838 UTC, 19 August 2014 (click to enlarge)

GOES-14 SRSOR: Mesoscale Convective Vortex in the Southern Mississippi Valley

August 18th, 2014
GOES-14 0.63 µm visible channel images (click to play animation)

GOES-14 0.63 µm visible channel images (click to play animation)

The GOES-14 satellite was in Super Rapid Scan Operations for GOES-R (SRSOR) mode providing 1-minute imagery over the eastern US on 18 August 2014. From the late morning into the afternoon hours, 0.63 µm visible channel images (above; click image to play animation; also available as an MP4 movie file or a YouTube video) revealed a large and well-defined mesoscale convective vortex (MCV) propagating eastward across northern Mississippi. This MCV was spawned from a thunderstorm which rapidly developed over far southwestern Arkansas during the preceding nighttime hours (beginning around 06:15 UTC: GOES-13 IR images).

A comparison of Suomi NPP VIIRS 11.45 µm IR channel images (below) showed the rapid growth of the parent thunderstorm from 07:18 UTC to 08:59 UTC. The coldest cloud-top IR brightness temperatures were -80º C.

Suomi NPP VIIRS 11.45 µm IR channel images

Suomi NPP VIIRS 11.45 µm IR channel images

Flooding rains over the Chesapeake Basin

August 12th, 2014
MIMIC Total Precipitable Water for the 72 hours ending at 1800 UTC 12 August 2014 (click to enlarge)

MIMIC Total Precipitable Water for the 72 hours ending at 1800 UTC 12 August 2014 (click to enlarge)

Very heavy rain has fallen during the day on August 12th in and around Baltimore (with rainfall rates as high as 2.70″ per hour at KBWI) and Washington DC, with reports of up to 10″. Where has this moisture come from? There are a variety of products available to diagnose total precipitable water in the atmosphere. The animation above, taken from the MIMIC Total Precipitable Water page (link), shows an influx of tropical moisture from the south-southeast has surged northward up to the east coast of Maryland on August 12. A mesoanalysis from SPC also suggests a link to the moisture east and south of Cape Hatteras. The GOES Sounder Total Precipitable Water derived product image at 1800 UTC, below, (from this website) showed very high total precipitable water amounts just south of Baltimore and Washington DC with values exceeding 60 mm or 2.4″. Soundings at 1200 UTC also showed high values of precipitable water: 48.5 mm or 1.90″ at Wallops Island, VA, and 44.7 mm or 1.76″ at Washington Dulles. Finally, the Blended Total Precipitable Water Product from NESDIS showed values around 51 mm or 2″ as well. (Values did not quite reach the 200% of normal threshold, however).

GOES Sounder Total Precipitable Water derived product image at 18 UTC

GOES Sounder Total Precipitable Water derived product image at 18 UTC

The animation of GOES-13 Infrared (10.7 µm) imagery, below, suggests some training was occurring in the thunderstorm development: thunderstorms continually redeveloped and moved over the same region. Training thunderstorms in moisture-rich air is a recipe for flooding.

GOES-13 10.7 µm infrared imagery on 12 August 2014 (click to animate)

GOES-13 10.7 µm infrared imagery on 12 August 2014 (click to animate)

Comparisons of Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible channel and 11.45 µm IR channel images at 17:16 UTC and 18:54 UTC (below) showed that the convection exhibited cold cloud-top IR brightness temperatures (as cold as -77º C), and subtle shadowing on the visible imagery suggestive of overshooting tops. Using GOES-13 IR imagery,  the CIMSS/NASA Langley Automated Overshooting Tops / Thermal Couplets product displayed one distinct overshooting top (blue square symbol) over the Baltimore area at 18:45 UTC.

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible channel and 11.45 µm IR channel images at 17:16 UTC

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible channel and 11.45 µm IR channel images at 17:16 UTC

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible channel and 11.45 µm IR channel images at 18:54 UTC

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible channel and 11.45 µm IR channel images at 18:54 UTC

Hurricane Iselle weakens to a Tropical Storm as it nears Hawai’i

August 8th, 2014
Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible channel and 11.45 µm IR channel images

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible channel and 11.45 µm IR channel images

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible channel and 11.45 µm IR channel images at 23:47 UTC on 07 August 2014 (above) showed Category 1 Hurricane Iselle just east of Hawai’i, exhibiting a convective burst within the northern semicircle and cloud-top IR brightness temperatures as cold as -82º C. With the approach of Iselle, the Central Pacific Hurricane Center issued its first Hurricane Warning for a portion of Hawaii since 1993.

An animation of GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel images during daylight and 10.7 µm IR images at night (below; click to play animation; also available as an MP4 movie file) revealed a deteriorating satellite signature as the hurricane approached the Big Island of Hawai’i — and Iselle was downgraded to a Tropical Storm around 08 UTC on 08 August. However, abundant moisture and orographic effects led to some locations receiving over 10 inches of rainfall in a 24-hour period. In fact, one final convective burst could be seen developing after about 11:00 UTC, moving over the southeastern portion of the Big Island after about 12:45 UTC.

GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel and 10.7 µm IR channel images [click to play animation]

GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel and 10.7 µm IR channel images [click to play animation]

The period of deteriorating satellite signature and weakening intensification were due to the storm encountering increasing deep layer wind shear (below).

GOES-15 10.7 µm IR channel images with an overlay of deep layer wind shear

GOES-15 10.7 µm IR channel images with an overlay of deep layer wind shear