Warm Waters in the Great Lakes

July 23rd, 2012 |
MODIS Estimates of Lake Surface Temperature

MODIS Estimates of Lake Surface Temperature

Persistent heat over the upper Midwest and Eastern United States for the first half of 2012 have helped warm Great Lakes surface water temperatures. MODIS estimates of Lake Surface temperature, above, show only a small region of temperatures cooler than 60 F in the entire Lake system in a very small region near Isle Royale in Lake Superior. (Click here for maps of Lake Superior temperatures. You can also find data for Lakes Huron, Michigan, Erie and Ontario). All other temperatures exceed 60 F. The 8-day average of MODIS SSTs over the lake, from Terra and from Aqua, obtained from this interactive site also shows the warmth. An SST image from AVHRR (the image doesn’t include all of Lake Superior) also shows warm temperatures.

Major flooding event in Beijing, China

July 21st, 2012 |
FY-2E 0.73 µm visible channel images (click image to play HD animation)

FY-2E 0.73 µm visible channel images (click image to play HD animation)

A major flooding event occurred in the Beijing, China area on 21 July 2012, as the heaviest rainfall in over 60 years caused at least 77 fatalaties, cancelled over 500 airport flights, and forced more than 65,000 people to be evacuated. Much of the city averaged around 7-9 inches of rainfall within a 10-hour period, with the heaviest total rainfall accumulation being 18.1 inches (460 mm) in the Fangshan District of Beijing. McIDAS images of 1.25 km resolution 0.73 µm visible channel data from the Chinese FY-2E satellite (above; click image to play HD animation) showed an elongated band of clouds with embedded thunderstorms oriented from southwest to northeast across much of northeastern China. The small green box denotes the location of Beijing International Airport.

While there are some navigation issues associated with the FY-2E satellite (as noted by the amount of image drift during the animations), the position of the satellite at 105º E longitude offered a good viewing angle for this particular event. For a more detail meteorological analysis, see “Beijing flood of 21 July 2012” by Richard Grumm, NWS State College PA.

5-km resolution FY-2E 10.8 µm IR channel images (below; click image to play HD animation; also available as a QuickTime movie) revealed the development of very cold cloud top brightness temperatures (-60 to -75º C, red to black to white color enhancement) with some of these embedded thunderstorms, with evidence of a period of back-building of convection in the vicinity of Beijing after around 15 UTC.

FY-2E 10.8 µm IR channel images (click image to play HD animation)

FY-2E 10.8 µm IR channel images (click image to play HD animation)

5-km resolution FY-2E 6.8 µm “water vapor channel” images (below; click image to play HD animation) indicated a pronounced warming/drying signature (yellow colors) associated with a deepening shortwave trough that was approaching from the northwest. This approaching trough may have played a role in helping to enhance synoptic-scale upward vertical motion across the Beijing region, creating a more favorable enviroment supporting the formation and maintenance of strong convection.

FY-2E 6.8 µm water vapor channel images (click image to play HD animation)

FY-2E 6.8 µm water vapor channel images (click image to play HD animation)

A comparison of 375-meter resolution Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible channel and 11.45 µm IR channel imagery at 05:16 UTC (below) showed the development of some of the initial areas of embedded deep convective elements just to the southwest (upstream) of Beijing (station identifier ZBAA).

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

A time series of Beijing rawinsonde data Skew-T plots (below) showed the moistening of the atmosphere on 21 July, with the total precipitable water peaking at 50.4 mm (1.98 inches) at 12 UTC. The subsequent arrivial of dry middle-tropospheric air associated with the approaching shortwave trough can be seen after 00 UTC on 22 July, as Precipitable Water (PW) values dropped to 26.4 mm or 1.04 inch by 12 UTC.

Beijing, China rawinsonde data plots

Beijing, China rawinsonde data plots

Mesovortex over Lake Michigan

July 19th, 2012 |
GOES-13 0.63 µm visible channel images (click image to play animation)

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

A mesoscale vortex developed in northern Lake Michigan early in the day on 19 July 2012; AWIPS images of 1-km resolution GOES-13 0.63 µm visible channel data (above; click image to play animation) showed that the mesovortex then propagated southward across the western portion of the lake during the afternoon hours. Early in the animation, ship WBD4889 (plotted in red) appeared to have captured the periphery of the circulation of the developing vortex, with south-southeast winds at 20 knots (at 15 UTC)  which transitioned to northeasterly winds at 25 knots (at 17 UTC). Along the coast of Wisconsin, winds gusted to 19 knots at Sheboygan (KSBM) at 20 UTC, 23 knots at Milwaukee (KMKE) at 22 UTC, and 19 knots at Racine (KRAC) at 23 UTC as the vortext was moving to the east of those locations.

POES AVHRR Cloud Top Height product

POES AVHRR Cloud Top Height product

The 1-km resolution POES AVHRR Cloud Top Height product (above) indicated that the tops of the clouds associated with the mesovortex were only around 1 km (light pink color enhancement), so the mesovortex was not a vertically-deep feature. This low cloud top height was supported by the relatively warm Suomi NPP VIIRS IR cloud top brightness temperatures (below), which were around +10 C.

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

A 250-meter resolution MODIS true-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) image from the SSEC MODIS Today site (below; viewed using Google Earth) showed hints of some organized cloud banding structure within the center of the mesovortex as it was just east of Sheboygan, Wisconsin at 18:58 UTC (1:58 PM local time).

MODIS true-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) image (viewed using Google Earth)

MODIS true-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) image (viewed using Google Earth)

As noted by the NWS Milwaukee/Sullivan forecast office:

AREA FORECAST DISCUSSION   NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE   MILWAUKEE/SULLIVAN WI   914 PM CDT THU JUL 19 2012

.UPDATE… AN INTERESTING MESO LOW THAT LIKELY FORMED OVER THE NORTHERN REACHES OF LAKE MICHIGAN WHERE COOL AIR INTERACTED WITH THE WARM LAKE TEMPS…ROLLED DOWN THE LAKE SHORE AND HAD REACHED THE SOUTHERN TIP OF THE LAKE BY MID EVENING. THE ADDED FORCING AND LOW LEVEL CONVERGENCE FROM THIS FEATURE LEAD TO SHOWERS ACROSS THE FAR SOUTHEAST CORNER OF THE CWA THIS EVENING. THAT SHOULD ALL END BY MIDNIGHT.

The following day was cloud-free across Lake Michigan, allowing a nice view of the lake using the 1-km resolution MODIS Sea Surface Temperature (SST) product (below) — this showed a transition from SST values in the upper 60s F (green color enhancement) in the middle of the lake to middle 70s F (orange color enhancement) in the southern part of the lake.

MODIS Sea Surface Temperature product

MODIS Sea Surface Temperature product

Smoke being drawn over the Gulf of Alaska, and ship tracks converging on the remnants of Hurricane Fabio

July 19th, 2012 |
GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel images (click image to play animation)

GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel images (click image to play animation)

McIDAS images of 1-km resolution GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel data (above) showed a large area of low pressure in the eastern Gulf of Alaska which was helping to draw a large amount of wildfire smoke southward on 19 July 2012. The hazy smoke aloft originated from wildfires in Alaska and in northeastern Asia.

GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel images (click image to play animation)

GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel images (click image to play animation)

Meanwhile, farther to the south, 1-km resolution GOES-15 visible channel images (above; click image to play animation) revealed that the circulation of the remnants of Hurricane Fabio was drawing marine boundary layer “ship track” clouds into its circulation — while some ships actually appeared to be headed right for the center of the dissipating tropical cyclone.

The ship tracks were also evident on 4-km resolution GOES-15 3.9 µm shortwave IR images (below; click image to play animation). The ship tracks appeared darker (warmer) on the shortwave IR imagery, due to the fact that the smaller cloud droplets of the ship track clouds reflected a higher amount of incoming solar radiation back toward the satellite sensors.

GOES-15 3.9 µm shortwave IR channel images (click image to play animation)

GOES-15 3.9 µm shortwave IR channel images (click image to play animation)

250-meter resolution Terra and Aqua MODIS true-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) images from the SSEC MODIS Today site (below) showed greater details of the ship tracks as they were drawn into the circulation center of the dying storm (along with the other ship tracks approaching the storm from the south).

Terra MODIS true-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) image

Terra MODIS true-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) image

Aqua MODIS true-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) image

Aqua MODIS true-color Red/Green/Blue (RGB) image