Offshore mesovortex affecting the inland penetration of marine stratus along the California coast

June 2nd, 2014 |
GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel images (click to play animation)

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

On 02 June 2014, McIDAS images of 1-km resolution GOES-15 0.63 µm visible channel data (above; click image to play animation) revealed the presence of a cyclonic mesoscale vortex in the vicinity of Point Reyes along the California coast, which appeared to be playing a role in enhancing the inland penetration of marine fog/stratus into areas such as the San Francisco Bay region just south of the mesovortex.

An AWIPS image of 375-meter resolution (projected onto a 1-km AWIPS grid) Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible channel data at 21:07 UTC (below) included overlays of surface station and buoy reports, along with MADIS 1-hour satellite-derived atmospheric motion vectors within the 1050-900 mb layer at 21 UTC. The satellite cloud-tracked winds appeared to be picking up on the cyclonic circulation of the mesovortex. At this particular time, winds at San Francisco (station identifier KSFO) were southwesterly gusting to 23 knots.

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible channel image, with surface and buoy observations and 1-hour MADIS satellite winds

Suomi NPP VIIRS 0.64 µm visible channel image, with surface and buoy observations and 1-hour MADIS satellite winds

A time series of surface observation at San Francisco International Airport (below) showed the increase in layered stratus clouds (with ceilings of 1000 to 1500 feet) after the southwesterly winds began to increase around 19 UTC.

Time series of surface observations at San Francisco International Airport

Time series of surface observations at San Francisco International Airport

AWIPS images of the GOES-R Cloud Thickness product — with the GOES-R algorithm for Fog and Low Stratus products applied to GOES-15 data — indicated that the thickness of the stratus clouds moving inland across the San Francisco Bay area was only about 500 feet (below; click image to play animation). The thicker stratus clouds with depths of 1000-3000 feet remained off the coast of California.

GOES-15 Cloud Thickness product (click to play animation)

GOES-15 Cloud Thickness product (click to play animation)

The corresponding GOES-15 Marginal Visual Flight Rules (MVFR) product (below; click image to play animation) showed that MVFR probability values were generally below 50-60% in the San Francisco Bay area, with much higher probabilities existing within the offshore marine boundary layer stratus cloud field.

GOES-15 Marginal Visual Flight Rules (MVFR) Probability product (click to play animation)

GOES-15 Marginal Visual Flight Rules (MVFR) Probability product (click to play animation)