A better view of the offshore ice (as well as the ice in central Hudson Bay, northeast of the aforementioned mesoscale low) was provided by Suomi NPP VIIRS true-color and false-color images, visulized using the SSEC RealEarth web map server (below). In the false-color image, snow cover and ice appear as darker shades of cyan.A comparison of Canadian Ice Service analyses from 16 November and 23 November (below) showed the growth of the offshore ice along the western and northwestern edges of Hudson Bay, as well as the larger area of ice growing southward in the central portion of Hudson Bay during that 1-week period. The departure from normal images at the bottom indicated that ice concentration along the western and northwestern edges was well below normal (red), while the concentration of the large area of ice in central Hudson Bay was greater than normal (blue).
The Storm Prediction Center has revised its criteria for initiating GOES Rapid Scan Operations (RSO) calls. Previously, RSO was automatically activated when a Moderate Risk (MDT) appeared in the SPC Day 1 Convective Outlook. On October 1st that was changed per a September email from SPC:
Starting October 1, the SPC Lead Forecaster will contact the NCO/SDM to request GOES RSO whenever a Day 1 Convective Outlook includes an ENH Risk area. Data from the first six months of 2015 suggests SPC would request RSO on approximately 10-20 more days compared to the current MDT Risk criterion. Activating RSO on a more frequent basis using the ENH Risk criterion would improve NWS forecaster situational awareness on convectively active days and help prepare users for much higher temporal frequency GOES-R data.
An Enhanced Risk was issued on 11 November 2015 as a strong extratropical cyclone was developing over the midsection of the country. The image above shows the GOES-13 Water vapor imagery from 1145 UTC on 11 November. A strong jet extends from the southwestern United States northeastward. On the previous day (10 November, at 12 UTC) Albuquerque reported 135-knot winds at 300 hPa (and no winds at all at 200 hPa as the balloon was lost to the tracker); at 00 UTC on 11 November, winds were 162 knots just above the 250 hPa level. Strong veering, indicating warm advection, is apparent over the mid-Mississippi River Valley. Low-level warm advection is forecast to increase as the extratropical cyclone intensifies.
Update: GOES-East began RSO at 1545 UTC on 11 November 2015 — a few image animations are shown below.Of particular interest on 6.5 µm water vapor imagery, above, was the tightly-wrapped signature of the middle-tropospheric vorticity center moving northeastward along the Kansas/Nebraska border. The 10.7 µm Infrared images, above, showed the development of thunderstorms across Iowa which exhibited cloud-top IR brightness temperatures in the -50 to -60º C range (yellow to red color enhancement). Hail, damaging winds, and tornadoes were produced by these areas of deep convection (SPC storm reports). 3.9 µm Shortwave Infrared images, above, displayed numerous “hot spots” (black to yellow to red color enhancement) due to fire activity in parts of northeastern Oklahoma and southeastern Kansas. Finally, 0.63 µm Visible channel images, above, showed the hazy signature of smoke plumes from these Kansas/Oklahoma fires (along with a separate plume of blowing dust). In addition, as clouds cleared along the western edge of the storm, swaths of fresh snow cover could be seen over portions of Wyoming, Colorado, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas. As much as 12.5 inches of snow was reported in northeastern Colorado, with wind gusts of 75 mph creating blizzard conditions.
A deepening area of low pressure (21 UTC surface analysis) was moving northeastward across the Midwest region of the US on 09 April 2015; GOES-13 0.63 µm visible images combined with the Cloud-Top Cooling Rate and Overshooting Tops Detection products (above; click image to play animation) showed a line of severe thunderstorms which quickly developed along the associated cold frontal boundary as it moved eastward across Iowa and Missouri during the afternoon hours. Cloud-Top Cooling Rates with some of the storms in Missouri were in excess of 50º C per 15 minutes (violet color enhancement) during their early stage of development (18:25 UTC image).
A comparison of Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible channel and 11.45 µm IR channel images at 18:51 UTC or 1:51 PM local time (below) showed that the line of thunderstorms was beginning to produce a number of cloud-to-ground lightning strikes.
Focusing our attention on eastern Iowa and northern Illinois — where there were widespread reports of large hail, damaging winds, and tornadoes (SPC storm reports) — the organization of large, discrete supercell thunderstorms can be seen on GOES-13 0.63 µm visible channel images (below; click image to play animation), which exhibited numerous overshooting tops.
The corresponding GOES-13 10.7 µm IR channel images (below; click image to play animation) showed that the coldest cloud-top IR brightness temperatures were -67º C (darker black enhancement).
The NOAA/CIMSS ProbSevere product (below; click image to play animation) gauges the likelihood of a storm first producing severe weather (of any kind) within the next 60 minutes. It combines information about the environment (Most Unstable CAPE, Environmental Shear) from the Rapid Refresh Model, information about the growing cloud (Vertical Growth Rate as a percentage of the troposphere per minute and Glaciation Rate, also as a percentage per minute), and Maximum Expected Hail Size (MESH) from the MRMS. In this event, the ProbSevere product performed well for the storm that spawned the EF-4 tornado, although due to the cloudiness of the satellite scene the ProbSevere model was unable to diagnose vertical growth rate and glaciation rate (which diminished the potential lead-time). Below is a chronological timeline of events for that storm:
2308 UTC: first ProbSevere > 50%
2310 UTC: first ProbSevere > 70%
2311 UTC: NWS Severe T-Storm Warning
2312 UTC: ProbSevere = 88%
2323 UTC: 1.00″ hail 2 SE Dixson (15 min lead-time for ProbSevere@50, 13 min for ProbSevere@70, 12 min for NWS Svr Warning)
2335 UTC: NWS Tornado Warning (ProbSevere = 94%)
2340 UTC: Tornado report 2 NE Franklin Grove
In spite of widespread cloudiness, the GOES-13 Sounder single-field-of-view Lifted Index (LI), Convective Available Potential Energy (CAPE), and Total Precipitable Water (TPW) derived product images (below) were able to portray that the air mass in the warm sector of the low ahead of the strong cold front was was both unstable — LI values of -4 to -8º C (yellow to red color enhancement) and CAPE values of 3000-4000 J/kg (yellow to red color enhancement) — and rich in moisture, with TPW values of 30-40 mm or 1.2 to 1.6 inches (yellow to red color enhancement).
On the following day (10 April), it was cloud-free as the Landsat-8 satellite passed over northern Illinois at 16:41 UTC or 11:41 AM local time — and the 30.2 mile long southwest-to-northeast oriented tornado damage path that produced EF-4 damage and was responsible for 2 fatalities and 22 injuries (NWS Chicago event summary) was evident on 15-meter resolution Band 8 0.59 µm panchromatic visible images viewed using the SSEC RealEarth web map server (below). An aerial survey of part of the tornado damage path can be seen here.
A Landsat-8 false-color image (using Bands 6/5/4 as Red/Green/Blue) is shown below. The 2 tornado-related fatalities occurred in Fairdale.
On a side note, in the cold (northwestern) sector of the low it was cold enough for the precipitation type to be snow — and up to 4 inches of snow fell in western Iowa. GOES-13 0.63 µm visible channel images (below; click image to play animation) showed the swath of snow cover as it rapidly melted during the daytime hours on 10 April.
In fact, the swath of snow cover across eastern Nebraska and western/northern Iowa was also evident on a Suomi NPP VIIRS Day/Night Band (DNB) image at 08:49 UTC or 3:39 AM local time (below), highlighting the “visible image at night” capability of the DNB (given ample illumination from the Moon).
Clear skies over the Eastern and Midwestern United States on 28 March allowed the wide swath of Suomi NPP VIIRS to record ice conditions over the five Great Lakes. The visible and Day/Night Band imagery shows good contrast between the dark open waters and brighter melting ice. Ice strongly absorbs 1.61 µm radiation: regions in the near-infrared 1.61 µm imagery that are dark (where radiation is absorbed, not reflected/scattered) include pack ice on the lakes, and snow cover (southeast Minnesota and southwest Wisconsin; southern Ontario bordering Lake Erie; southwestern Ontario near Lake Huron; the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, northern Wisconsin and northwestern Lower Michigan) on land. Regions of clouds comprised of water droplets (extreme eastern Lower Michigan and northern Ohio, much of central Pennsylvania and the Adirondacks of northern New York) are white on all three images.