Why 1-Minute data matters: Tracking Cloud Layers in a Winter Storm

February 5th, 2016
GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images, 1-minute time-step [click to play rocking animated gif]

GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images, 1-minute time-step [click to play rocking animated gif]

There are two animations a the top of this blog post, one with a 1-minute timestep, above, and one with a 15-minute timestep, below. The strong winter storm that hit Colorado on Monday 1 February (Blog Post) was accompanied by multiple cloud layers and snow during the day on Monday was not steady. Was it related to the holes that are present in the clouds? How easy is it to track the different clouds to predict the arrival, overhead, of a gap in the high clouds? Especially for the low clouds in eastern Colorado in this example, cloud hole tracking can be done with more confidence with 1-minute imagery. Decision Support related to short time-scale variability in snow accumulations can be done with more confidence with the 1-minute imagery.

GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images, 15-minute time-step [click to play rocking animated gif]

GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images, 15-minute time-step [click to play rocking animated gif]


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On 7 February 2016, GOES-14 in SRSO-R monitored the development of a very strong storm over the Atlantic Ocean (blog post) east of the United States. Consider the animations below, starting with the standard GOES-East time steps (nominally every 15 minutes with some gaps). If you are monitoring the storm development, or the motion of the individual convective clouds, the 15-minute temporal gaps are insufficient for confident detection of cloud motions. When, for example, does the surface circulation first appear? Do the cloud towers that appear in the 15-minute animation persist over the course of 15 minutes, or do they decay and reappear? In the succeeding animations below, at 5- and 1-minute intervals, increasing amounts of detail are present because the better temporal resolution is convincingly following features. Additionally, the precise timing of events is better captured.

GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images, 15-minute time-step [click to play animated gif]

GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images, 15-minute time-step [click to play animated gif]

GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images, 15-minute time-step [click to play animated gif]

GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images, 5-minute time-step [click to play animated gif]

GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images, 15-minute time-step [click to play animated gif]

GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images, 1-minute time-step [click to play animated gif]

The differences between 1-, 5- and 15-minute time steps are visualized in the rocking animation below. The right-most panel has a 15-minute timestep always, the middle panel starts with a 15-minute time step before switching to 5-minute, and the left-most panel shows 15-minute, 5-minute and 1-minute time steps. Note how the convective towers appear and disappear on timescales that make resolution in the 5-minute time step difficult and in the 15-minute timestep impossible. The region below is excised from the animations above, and is over the ocean south of the developing low pressure system.

GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images, 15-minute time-step (right panel), 15-minute then 5-minute time step (middle panel) and 15-minute, then 5-minute, then 1-minute time step (left panel) [click to play animated gif]

GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images, 15-minute time-step (right panel), 15-minute then 5-minute time step (middle panel) and 15-minute, then 5-minute, then 1-minute time step (left panel) [click to play animated gif]

GOES-14 SRSO-R: heavy snow in the Upper Midwest, severe thunderstorms in the Deep South

February 2nd, 2016

GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

A strong occluded mid-latitude cyclone moved from the central Plains northeastward across the Upper Midwest on 02 February 2016 (surface analyses). This storm produced a variety of precipitation, most notably heavy snow — exceeding 12 inches at some locations in Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (map) — and blizzard conditions. One-minute interval Super Rapid Scan (SRSO-R) GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images (above; also available as a large 151-Mbyte animated GIF) showed the cloud-top shadows and textured appearance that is indicative of embedded convection — in fact, many sites in Iowa and southern Wisconsin reported thundersnow which produced snowfall rates of 1-2 inches per hour.

Farther to the south, as moisture from the Gulf of Mexico was drawn northward (GOES-14 sounder Total Precipitable Water derived product images) in advance of the eastward-moving cold frontal boundary (surface analyses) associated with the aforementioned Upper Midwest storm, areas of strong to severe thunderstorms developed across the Mississippi River and Tennessee River Valley regions during the afternoon and evening hours. GOES-14 Infrared Window (10.7 µm) images (below; also available as a large 208-Mbyte animated GIF) showed the cold cloud-top IR brightness temperatures (orange to red color enhancement) exhibited by the widespread convective activity.

GOES-14 Infrared Window (10.7 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-14 Infrared Window (10.7 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

Taking a closer look at the severe thunderstorms which produced multiple tornadoes from eastern Mississippi  into far western Alabama (SPC storm reports), GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images (above; also available as a large 66-Mbyte animated GIF) revealed numerous overshooting tops; the counties where tornadoes were reported are indicated by their dashed red outlines. Another visible image animation from RAMMB/CIRA is available here. NWS storm damage surveys (Jackson MS | Birmingham AL) found EF-1 to EF-2 damage in both Mississippi and Alabama.

The corresponding GOES-14 Infrared Window (10.7 µm) images (below; also available as a large 37-Mbyte animated GIF) indicated that the coldest cloud-top IR brightness temperatures were in the -50º to -60º range (darker orange to red color enhancement), which was at or above the tropopause level according the Jackson MS and Birmingham AL rawinsonde data.

GOES-14 Infrared Window (10.7 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-14 Infrared Window (10.7 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-14 SRSO-R: Return flow of Gulf of Mexico moisture in eastern Texas; blowing dust and a wildfire in western Texas

February 1st, 2016

GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images, with surface observations [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images, with surface observations [click to play MP4 animation]

Day 1 of the 01-25 February 2016 test period of GOES-14 Super Rapid Scan Operations for GOES-R (SRSO-R) revealed some interesting features across the state of Texas. During the morning hours, the northward “return flow” of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico could be seen in the form of widespread fog and low stratus across the eastern part of the state on 1-minute interval GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images (above; also available as a large 83 Mbyte animated GIF). Surface reports showed that dew point temperatures were as high as the 60s F along and just inland of the coast. GOES-13 derived products such as the MVFR Probability, LIFR Probability, and Low Cloud Thickness (FLS product training) showed the northward motion of the fog and low stratus during the preceding overnight hours.

During the afternoon hours, GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images (below; also available as a large 91 Mbyte animated GIF) revealed the hazy signature of areas of blowing dust across southwest Texas, both ahead of and also in the wake of a cold frontal passage (surface analyses). Much of the blowing dust ahead of the cold front originated from dry lake beds in northern Mexico, which was then transported northeastward across Texas by strong southwesterly winds (an enhanced visible MP4 animation which shows the blowing dust better is available here). Blowing dust along and behind the cold front restricted the surface visibility to 1.0 miles at Big Spring (KBPG) and 2.5 miles at Midland (KMAF). Also note that early in the animation — beginning at 1800 UTC — there were small convective bands moving northeastward over the El Paso area, which produced light to moderate accumulating snow that reduced surface visibility to 1.0 miles at El Paso and Biggs Army Air Field (KBIF), and 2.0 miles at Ciudad Juarez, Mexico (MMCS).

GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images, with surface reports [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-14 Visible (0.63 µm) images, with surface reports [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-14 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (below; also available as a large 52 Mbyte animated GIF) showed the “hot spot” signature (darker black to red pixels) associated with a large grass fire which developed in the Big Bend National Park area, beginning around 2300 UTC. The hot spot was seen to diminish not long after the arrival of cooler air (lighter shades of gray) behind the cold front. Surface air temperatures were quite warm in Texas ahead of the cold front, with daytime highs of 91º F at Del Rio (KDRT)  and 95º F — the highest temperature recorded for the day in the lower 48 states — farther to the southeast at Cotulla.

GOES-14 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-14 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-14 Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images (below; also available as a large 57 Mbyte animated GIF) showed a broad ascending belt of moisture curving cyclonically over central and eastern Colorado, where moderate snow and significant accumulations were occurring at a number of locations.

GOES-14 Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images, with surface weather symbols [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-14 Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images, with surface weather symbols [click to play MP4 animation]

A blog post discussing this ascending belt of moisture in more detail can be found here; a YouTube animation of GOES-14 Infrared Window (10.7 µm) images is available here.

===== 02 February Update =====

GOES-14 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-14 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images [click to play MP4 animation]

During the subsequent overnight  hours, an undular bore developed along and just ahead of the advancing cold front, as seen in GOES-14 Shortwave Infrared (3.9 µm) images (below; also available as a large 107 Mbyte animated GIF). A detailed view of the undular bore was also captured at 0859 UTC (3:59 AM local time) on Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) and Infrared Window (11.45 µm) images (below).

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

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

Historic Winter Storm Along the US East Coast

January 22nd, 2016

MIMIC Total Precipitable Water, 1500 UTC 19 January -- 1400 UTC 22 January [click to enlarge]

MIMIC Total Precipitable Water, 1500 UTC 19 January — 1400 UTC 22 January [click to enlarge]

A storm forecast to produce near-record snowfalls over the Nation’s Capitol has started to move up the east coast of the United States on 22 January 2016. Snow that will fall requires two things: abundant moisture, and cold temperatures. The MIMIC Total Precipitable Water Product, shown above for the 72 hours ending at 1400 UTC on 22 January (Source) shows the circulation of the developing storm drawing moist air northward from both the Gulf of Mexico and the western Atlantic Ocean. Similarly, the toggle below shows the NESDIS Operational Blended Total Precipitable Water Product (Source, a product that ‘blends’ Total Precipitable Water observations from GPS and GOES-Sounder*). Significant moistening is apparent over the southeastern part of the United States.

*As the GOES-13 Sounder continues to be off-line due to an anomaly (Link), the principle driver of this product over the eastern US is now GPS data.

NESDIS Blended Total Precipitable Water, 1400 UTC on 21 and 22 January 2016 [Click to enlarge]

NESDIS Blended Total Precipitable Water, 1400 UTC on 21 and 22 January 2016 [click to enlarge]

Cold air is also present. MODIS Land Surface Temperature imagery from 0731 UTC on 22 January shows temperatures (in clear regions) colder than -5º C southward into Virginia. Dewpoints in this region are colder than -10º C. High Pressure over the East Coast is promoting cold air damming along the Appalachians as well.

MODIS-based Land Surface Temperature, 0722 UTC and the 0900 UTC WPC Surface Analysis, 22 January 2016 [Click to enlarge]

MODIS-based Land Surface Temperature, 0722 UTC and the 0900 UTC WPC Surface Analysis, 22 January 2016 [click to enlarge]

Suomi-NPP carries on board two instruments that provide vertical profiles of moisture and temperature in the atmosphere, the CrIS and the ATMS. NUCAPS Soundings combine information from those two soundings. NUCAPS Soundings sites from the early morning Suomi NPP Pass on 22 January are shown superimposed on the MODIS Land Surface Image below; five sounding sites (highlighted in red) were selected: northwest of Boston, over western Connecticut, New York City, Washington DC and central Virginia. These soundings all have common attributes: They are dry (although the vertical profiles from DC and Virginia show the most moisture: ~0.3″ of total precipitable water), they are too warm near the surface (detection of low-level inversions from satellite data is difficult) and they show lapse rates at mid-levels that suggest vigorous ascent may be possible. The 0600, 1200 and 1800 UTC Soundings from KIAD (below) also show dry air (at least initially: total precipitable water doubled from 0.24″ at 1200 UTC to 0.49″ at 1800 UTC) and steep mid-level lapse rates.

MODIS-based Land Surface Temperature, 0722 UTC and 0700 UTC NUCAPS Sounding Sites (in green) and the 0900 UTC WPC Surface Analysis, 22 January 2016 [Click to enlarge]

MODIS-based Land Surface Temperature, 0722 UTC and 0700 UTC NUCAPS Sounding Sites (in green) and the 0900 UTC WPC Surface Analysis, 22 January 2016 [click to enlarge]

Rawinsonde from KIAD (Dulles International Airport) at 0600, 1200 and 1800 UTC on 22 January 2016 [Click to enlarge]

Rawinsonde from KIAD (Dulles International Airport) at 0600, 1200 and 1800 UTC on 22 January 2016 [click to enlarge]

The Aqua Satellite, bearing the MODIS instrument, overflew the eastern United States shortly before 1900 UTC on 22 January 2016. MODIS samples the atmosphere at 36 different wavelengths, and selected images are shown below.

The toggle between the Visible (0.65 µm) and the ‘Snow Ice’ Channel in MODIS (1.63 µm), below, highlights regions of ice clouds. Ice particles absorb radiation with wavelength of 1.63 µm but water droplets scatter such radiation. Thus, regions in visible imagery that are white that include mostly ice crystals (or snow on the ground), for example the cirrus shield on the East Coast, will appear dark in the 1.63 µm imagery but bright in visible because clouds are highly reflective to visible light. Water-based clouds (over Mississippi, for example, or southeastern West Virginia; in fact, low clouds are apparent just to the west of the cirrus shield associated with the developing baroclinic leaf, from West Virginia southward to Savannah Georgia!) will appear bright in both channels.

MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) and near Infrared (1.63 µm) Imagery at 1836 UTC [Click to enlarge]

MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) and near Infrared (1.63 µm) Imagery at 1836 UTC [click to enlarge]

MODIS also includes a channel (1.38 µm) in a region in the electromagnetic spectrum where strong water vapor absorption occurs; this channel is ideal for high cloud detection. (GOES-R will also detect radiation at this wavelength) The toggle below shows the Visible (0.65 µm), Cirrus channel (1.38 µm) and Infrared window channel (11.02 µm) from MODIS. The storm at mid-day on 22 January was producing an extensive cirrus shield that had the classic baroclinic leaf structure (a structure that was also evident in the infrared window channel).

MODIS Visible (0.65 µm), Cirrus Channel (1.38 µm) and Window Channel Infrared (11.02 µm) Imagery at 1836 UTC [Click to enlarge]

MODIS Visible (0.65 µm), Cirrus Channel (1.38 µm) and Window Channel Infrared (11.02 µm) Imagery at 1836 UTC [click to enlarge]

Careful inspection of the visible and near-infrared channels from MODIS reveals transverse banding (features commonly associated with turbulence) along the western edge of the Cirrus Shield along the East Coast. The toggle below of the MODIS Water Vapor imagery (6.8 µm) shows distinct transverse banding. Pilot reports of turbulence with this system are widespread.

MODIS Infrared Water Vapor (6.8 µm) Imagery at 1836 UTC along with Pilot Reports of Turbulence (PIREPS) [Click to enlarge]

MODIS Infrared Water Vapor (6.8 µm) Imagery at 1836 UTC along with Pilot Reports of Turbulence (PIREPS) [click to enlarge]

To better monitor the long-duration storm, the GOES-13 (GOES-East) satellite was placed into Rapid Scan Operations (RSO) mode for a 2-day period beginning at 1215 UTC on 22 January. During RSO, images are available as frequently as every 5-7 minutes, an improvement over the routine 15-minute image interval (note: the ABI instrument on GOES-R will be able to provide images as often as every minute, or even every 30 seconds). Animations of RSO Visible (0.63 µm), Water Vapor (6.5 µm), and Infrared window (10.7 µm) imagery during the daylight portion of Day 1 of the storm are shown below.

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

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

GOES-13 Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images [click to play animation]

GOES-13 Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images [click to play animation]

GOES-13 Infrared window (10.7 µm) images [click to play animation]

GOES-13 Infrared window (10.7 µm) images [click to play animation]

Though they lack the temporal resolution provided by geostationary satellites such as GOES, polar-orbiting satellites such as the NOAA series (with their AVHRR instrument), Terra and Aqua (with their MODIS instrument), and Suomi NPP (with the VIIRS instrument) offer imagery with significantly improved spatial resolution. Shown below is a series of AVHRR, MODIS, and VIIRS Infrared window channel images (10.8 µm, 11.0 µm, and 11.45 µm, respectively) on 22 January, with the data projected into a 1-km AWIPS-I grid. Areas with cloud-top IR brightness temperatures in the -50º to -60º C range (orange to red color enhancement) can be seen as the storm moved across the eastern US.

AVHRR (10.8 µm), MODIS (11.0 µm), and VIIRS (11.45 µm) Infrared window channel images [click to enlarge]

AVHRR (10.8 µm), MODIS (11.0 µm), and VIIRS (11.45 µm) Infrared window channel images [click to enlarge]

Excellent detail can also be seen in a series of 1-km resolution MODIS Water Vapor (6.7 µm) images spanning the 21-22 January period, shown below.

MODIS Water Vapor (6.7 µm) images [click to enlarge]

MODIS Water Vapor (6.7 µm) images [click to enlarge]

One interesting aspect to note was that the cold front associated with the intensifying storm had moved southward across the Gulf of Mexico (surface analyses), crossed the mountainous terrain of Mexico, and emerged as an area of strong gap winds over the Pacific Ocean south of Mexico (in the Gulf of Tehuantepec). The leading edge of the gap wind flow, known as a Tehuano wind (or a “Tehuantepecer”), was marked by a thin arc cloud fanning out away from the southerrn coast of Mexico, with hazy plumes of blowing dust seen streaming southward off the coast as the strong northerly winds persisted during the day.

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

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

The hazy signature of blowing dust resulting from the strong gap wind flow was even more recognizable on Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color RGB imagery, below.

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color RGB image [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color RGB image [click to enlarge]

GOES-13 satellite-derived atmospheric motion vector (AMV) winds, below, were showing cloud targets moving at speeds around 30-35 knots. Unfortunately, there was no good Metop ASCAT wind coverage of the Tehuano winds (as was the case for past events such as these documented here and here).

GOES and ASCAT satellite winds [click to play animation]

GOES and ASCAT satellite winds [click to play animation]

===== 23 January  Update =====

As the surface low deepened to a minimum central pressure of 983 hPa and moved northeastward just off the US East Coast (surface analyses), GOES-13 Visible (0.63 µm) images, below, showed  the moisture — with some embedded convective elements, judging from the texture and shadowing of the cloud tops — moving inland from the Atlantic Ocean north of the storm. Thundersnow was in fact reported at a number of locations. A similar animation of GOES-13 Visible images covering the daylight portions of the 22-23 January period is available here, with the entire 48-hour Infrared window channel (10.7 µm)  animation here.

GOES-13 Visible (0.63 µm) images with surface weather symbols [click to play animation]

GOES-13 Visible (0.63 µm) images with surface weather symbols [click to play animation]

Consecutive Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color RGB images at 1652 and 1828 UTC, below, provided a more detailed view of the convective elements that were moving inland north of the storm center.

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color RGB images at 1652 and 1828 UTC [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color RGB images at 1652 and 1828 UTC [click to enlarge]

===== 24 January Update =====

MIMIC Total Precipitable Water product [click to enlarge]

MIMIC Total Precipitable Water product [click to enlarge]

Shown above is a 72-hour animation of the MIMIC TPW product (from 00 UTC on 21 January to 00 UTC on 24 January), which — as mentioned at the beginning of this blog post — revealed the large amount of moisture-rich air that was drawn northward and subsequently wrapped into the storm. South of Mexico, a narrow tongue of dry air (a signature of the aforementioned Tehuano wind event) was also clearly seen, moving southwestward over the Pacific Ocean.

GOES-13 Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images, with surface weather symbols [click to play MP4 animation]

GOES-13 Water Vapor (6.5 µm) images, with surface weather symbols [click to play MP4 animation]

The entire 48-hour period of Rapid Scan Operations GOES-13 Water Vapor (6.5 µm) imagery with plots of surface weather symbols (above; also available as a large 66 Mbyte animated GIF) depicted the evolution of the storm as it moved across the Eastern US from 1215 UTC on 22 January to 1215 UTC on 24 January. The storm produced widespread heavy snowfall, areas of freezing rain and sleet, hurricane-force winds (peak gusts), and coastal flooding (WPC storm summary | NWS impacts statement | Capital Weather Gang blog). Features seen on the water vapor imagery included the development of a well-defined dry slot, cold conveyor belt, and elongated comma head / deformation zone that helped to produce the prolonged period of heavy snow. Interesting gravity waves were also seen within the offshore dry slot on 23 January, which appeared to be propagating westward back toward the coast. Larger-scale GOES-13 animations covering the entire 48-hour RSO period are also available [Water Vapor (6.5 µm): MP4 | animated GIF ; Infrared window channel (10.7 µm): MP4 | animated GIF].

The illumination of a Full Moon helped to provide a vivid “visible image at night” using the Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.7 µm Day/Night Band (below), highlighting the clouds associated with the departing storm along and just off the US East Coast, as well as the vast areas inland that were snow-covered. In the toggle between the corresponding Infrared window (11.45 µm) image, cloud streets due to cold air streaming southward and southeastward across the Gulf of Mexico toward Cuba were also seen.

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) and Infrared window channel (11.45 µm) images [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (0.7 µm) and Infrared window channel (11.45 µm) images [click to enlarge]

With the arrival of daylight on the morning of 24 January, the expansive area of snow cover was very apparent on GOES-13 Visible (0.63 µm) images, shown below. Snow depth values (inches) are plotted in cyan — 12 UTC depths for the earlier images, and 18 UTC depths for the later images.  The 18 UTC snow depth values were a bit less at many locations (due to compaction and/or melting), and parts of the extreme southern and southeastern edges of the snow cover were seen to melt away during the late morning hours.

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

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

False-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) images made using Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) and Snow/Ice (1.61 µm) images, below, showed how such RGB images can be useful for the discrimination of snow/ice (shades of red) vs. supercooled clouds (shades of white). Bare ground appears as shades of cyan.

Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) and False-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS Visible (0.65 µm) and False-color RGB images [click to enlarge]

The full-resolution Terra MODIS true-color RGB images viewed using the SSEC RealEarth web map server, below, showed even better detail, including the very sharp northern edge of the snow cover from New York and Connecticut to Massachusetts.

Terra MODIS true-color RGB iimage [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS true-color RGB iimage [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS true-color RGB image [click to enlarge]

Terra MODIS true-color RGB image [click to enlarge]

The wider swath of the VIIRS instrument on the Suomi NPP satellite provided a good true-color vs false-color image comparison, shown below. In this particular RGB image, show/ice (and glaciated ice crystal clouds) appear as shades of cyan, while supercooled water droplet clouds appear as shades of white.

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

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

Even greater detail could be seen in a 30-meter resolution Landsat-8 false-color RGB image, centered over the Washington DC area (below). Snow and ice also appear as shades of cyan in this image — ice can be seen in parts of the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers. The partially-plowed runway network of Reagan National Airport appears at the bottom center of the image.

Landsat-8 false-color image of the Washington DC area [click to enlarge]

Landsat-8 false-color image of the Washington DC area [click to enlarge]

A close-up Landsat-8 view of the Baltimore, Maryland area (below) also showed some ice forming in a few of the rivers.

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

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

Table of Maximum Wind Gusts [click to enlarge]

Table of Maximum Wind Gusts [click to enlarge]

Widespread strong gusts occurred with this storm, as shown in the Table above (from the National Weather Service). The hourly animation, below, of GOES-13 Water Vapor (6.5 µm) with Wind Gusts superimposed, shows that the strongest gusts occurred as the storm’s dry slot, depicted as darker shades in the water vapor imagery and a region which is often associated with strong subsidence, was nearby.

Hourly GOES-13 Infrared Water Vapor (6.5 µm) and surface reports of Wind Gusts (knots) [click to play animation]

Hourly GOES-13 Infrared Water Vapor (6.5 µm) and surface reports of Wind Gusts (knots) [click to play animation]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible and Near-Infrared imagery, below, shows the extent of the snowcover on 25 January. The benefit of multi-spectral imagery (as is available today from Suomi NPP, and will also be available from GOES-R) appears by comparing the 0.64 µm, 0.86 µm and 1.61 µm channels. For example, regions of snow vs. no snow are less distinct in the 0.86 µm (over northwest Connecticut, for example), but land/water differences are accentuated. Comparing the visible and the 1.61 µm brings out snow/ice features. The band of snow over southern New England is dark in the 1.61 µm because snow/ice absorbs radiation at that wavelength. Snow is highly reflective in the visible, however, and it appears bright white on that image. This comparison of visible and 1.61 µm can also be used to highlight ice clouds (as noted higher up in this blog post).

Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) and Near-Infrared (0.86 µm and 1.61 µm) imagery, 1753 UTC on 25 January 2016 [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS Visible (0.64 µm) and Near-Infrared (0.86 µm and 1.61 µm) imagery, 1753 UTC on 25 January 2016 [click to enlarge]

RGB Imagery allows a one-image perspective (vs. an image toggle) to highlight features. The RGB image from Suomi NPP VIIRS imagery (0.64 µm and 1.61 µm) below shows snow cover (shades of red) over the Northeast. In the mid-Atlantic states, thin patchy clouds are present. The brightness of these clouds in the 1.61 µm channel suggests they are composed of supercooled water droplets.

Suomi NPP VIIRS RGB Imagery showing snow/ice features (red), water droplet cloud features (white) and bare ground (cyan), 1753 UTC on 25 January 2016 [click to enlarge]

Suomi NPP VIIRS RGB Imagery showing snow/ice features (red), water droplet cloud features (white) and bare ground (cyan), 1753 UTC on 25 January 2016 [click to enlarge]


===== Added 28 January =====

Rich Grumm, the SOO from the WFO in State College, discussed this storm as part of VISIT’s Satellite Chat series.