Smoke plume from a swamp fire near New Orleans

August 30th, 2011
MODIS true color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) images

MODIS true color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) images

 

A sequence of daily 250-meter resolution MODIS true color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) images from the SSEC MODIS Direct Broadcast site (above) showed the development and evolution of the smoke plume emanating from a swamp fire that was burning in the Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge near New Orleans during the 26 August – 31 August 2011 time period. The change in daily wind directions resulted in very different smoke dispersion patterns on each day. Smoke from this fire caused air quality alerts to be issued for the New Orleans and Baton Rouge areas.

AWIPS images (below) of the 1-km resolution MODIS 0.65 µm visible channel data at 19:16 UTC (2:16 pm local time on 30 August) showed the curving smoke plume; about 9.5 hours later, the fire “hot spot” (black to red to yellow color enhanced pixels) was seen on a 1-km resolution MODIS 3.7 µm shortwave IR image at 04:42 UTC (11:42 pm local time on 30 August).

MODIS 0.65 µm visible image + MODIS 3.7 µm shortwave IR image

MODIS 0.65 µm visible image + MODIS 3.7 µm shortwave IR image

Tropical Storm Katia forms over the far eastern Atlantic

August 30th, 2011
GOES-13 Visible (0.63 µm) images (click image to play animation)

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

An area of disturbed weather that emerged off the coast of Africa over the weekend has acquired sufficient organized convection to be classified as a Tropical Storm, Katia, the 11th named storm of this active Atlantic Hurricane Season. Analyses from the CIMSS Tropical Weather Website show the storm just south of a region of dry air from the Sahara. Shear analyses at the site show that Katia is projected to move into a region of decreasing shear in the next 24 hours. In addition, sea surface temperatures are warm. The forecast from the National Hurricane Center suggests slow strengthening over the next 3 days.

Overshooting Tops diagnosed with MSG data (click image to play animation)

Overshooting Tops diagnosed with MSG data (click image to play animation)

Overshooting tops diagnosed using MSG data (at this site) (above) show a decrease in OT generation over the center of the system today, coincident with warming of the cloud tops. Variability in the number of OTs is common, as shown here.

Hydrological impacts of Hurricane Irene

August 29th, 2011
MODIS true color images: 16 August and 28 August 2011

MODIS true color images: 16 August and 28 August 2011

Heavy rainfall associated with Hurricane Irene included 20.40 inches at Virginia beach, Virginia and 20.00 inches at Jacksonville, North Carolina (HPC summary). Winds gusted as high as 115 mph at Cedar Island, North Carolina. The effects of the heavy rain and strong winds can be seen in a before/after comparison of 250-meter resolution MODIS true color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) images from the SSEC MODIS Today site (above). On the “before” image (16 August 2011), there was a large smoke plume seen from a fire that was burning in the Great Dismal Swamp area in far southeastern Virginia; on the “after” image (28 August 2011), water turbidity was significantly enhanced due to suspended sediment across the Outer Banks region of North Carolina — and a narrow filament of sediment was being actually being entrained into the flow of the Gulf Stream.

AWIPS images of the corresponding MODIS 0.65 µm visible channel data and the MODIS Sea Surface Temperature (SST) product (below) showed that the enhanced turbidity features seen on the MODIS true color image generally exhibited slightly cooler SST values (in the middle to upper 70s F, blue color enhancement) compares to the waters located closer to the Gulf Stream (SST values in the lower 80s F, darker red color enhancement).

MODIS 0.65 µm visible channel image + MODIS Sea Surface Temperature image

MODIS 0.65 µm visible channel image + MODIS Sea Surface Temperature image

Farther to the north, another before/after MODIS true color image comparison revealed additional areas of sediment being carried off the coast of the Northeast US (below). Also note that there was a great deal of sediment in the Hudson River (perhaps better seen in this 20 August / 29 August comparison).

MODIS true color images: 26 August and 29 August 2011

MODIS true color images: 26 August and 29 August 2011

NWS forecast office use of MODIS TPW product

August 27th, 2011
MODIS Total Precipitable Water product

MODIS Total Precipitable Water product

The National Weather Service forecast office in Salt Lake City, Utah referred to the MODIS Total Precipitable Water (TPW) product (above) in their afternoon forecast discussion on 27 August 2011:

FXUS65 KSLC 272201
AFDSLC
AREA FORECAST DISCUSSION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SALT LAKE CITY UT
355 PM MDT SAT AUG 27 2011

.SYNOPSIS...HIGH PRESSURE NEAR THE FOUR CORNERS WILL DRIFT WEST AND
WEAKEN ON SUNDAY. A VERY MOIST AIRMASS WILL REMAIN IN PLACE SUNDAY
BRINGING SCATTERED THUNDERSTORMS TO UTAH. WESTERLY FLOW WITH A
GRADUAL DRYING TREND IS THEN EXPECTED ON MONDAY AND TUESDAY.

.DISCUSSION...UPPER LEVEL AREA OF HIGH PRESSURE REMAINS CENTERED
NEAR THE FOUR CORNERS AREA THIS AFTERNOON...KEEPING A VERY MOIST
AIRMASS IN PLACE ACROSS UTAH. GPS-MET SENSOR CONTINUES TO SHOW THAT
COLUMN PRECIPITABLE WATER IS HOVERING AROUND 1.20 INCHES IN SALT
LAKE CITY.  AFTERNOON MODIS IMAGERY INDICATES THAT PRECIPITABLE
WATER VALUES ARE GENERALLY 1.0 TO 1.25 INCHES STATEWIDE.

The MODIS TPW values were in general agreement with those seen on the GOES sounder TPW product (below), but with finer spatial resolution (4-km MODIS, vs 10-km GOES) the various TPW gradients appear smoother on the MODIS image.

GOES sounder Total Precipitable Water product

GOES sounder Total Precipitable Water product

The Blended TPW product (below) displayed complete coverage (even in cloudy areas), but lacked the finer scale definition of the MODIS or GOES products due to the use of only Global Positioning System derived TPW data over inland areas.

Blended Total Precipitable Water product

Blended Total Precipitable Water product

The Percent of Normal TPW product (below) indicated that the TPW values present across the region were generally 150-200% above normal for the date.

Percent of Normal TPW product

Percent of Normal TPW product

Their forecast discussion went on to state:

AIRMASS QUICKLY DESTABILIZED IN THE EARLY AFTERNOON WITH SCATTERED
CONVECTION FORMING IN THE SOUTH AND EAST AND MORE ISOLATED COVERAGE
IN THE NORTHWEST.

The MODIS 0.65 µm visible channel image (below) showed the areas where organized convection had already developed across Utah and the surrounding states.

MODIS 0.65 µm visible chanel image

MODIS 0.65 µm visible chanel image

CIMSS participation in GOES-R Proving Ground activities includes making a variety of MODIS images and products available for National Weather Service offices to add to their local AWIPS workstations. Currently there are 49 NWS offices receiving MODIS imagery and products from CIMSS. In addition, the VISIT training lesson “MODIS Products in AWIPS” is available to help users understand these products and their applications to weather analysis and forecasting.