Mountain waves over Colorado and New Mexico

November 12th, 2011 |
GOES-11, GOES-13, GOES-15, and MODIS water vapor channel images

GOES-11, GOES-13, GOES-15, and MODIS water vapor channel images

A comparison of 8-km resolution GOES-11 6.7 µm water vapor channel, 4-km resolution GOES-13 and GOES-15 6.5 µm water vapor channel, and 1-km resolution Aqua MODIS 6.7 µm water vapor channel images (above) demonstrated how differences in satellite viewing angle as well as differences in satellite sensor spatial resolution have an impact in being able to resolve the structure and areal coverage of small-scale features such as the mountain waves that existed across much of southeastern Colorado and northeastern New Mexico around 19:45 UTC on 12 November 2011.

There were a number of pilot reports of moderate to severe turbulence aloft across the region – and at the surface, wind gusts as high as 115 mph were reported. As can be seen in a comparison of 1-km resolution MODIS 0.65 µm visible channel and MODIS 6.7 µm water vapor channel images (below), many of the mountain waves were located in cloud-free areas — this highlights the value of water vapor channel imagery for identifying such regions of potential aircraft turbulence.

MODIS 0.65 µm visible channel + MODIS 6.7 µm water vapor channel images

MODIS 0.65 µm visible channel + MODIS 6.7 µm water vapor channel images